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Hiring a passionate music director

By Darby Jones

The condition of the heart is the most important factor.
Talent and education may manifest excellent music, but bad integrity brings shallow worship. Seek candidates who are passionate for God, love God's people and demonstrate it in their personal life. It is imperative that you get to know the candidates before hiring. They need not be seminary graduates. Just look for virtues important for music directors such as patience, mercy and compassion.

Worship leaders should always get final approval from the senior pastor because it encourages accountability and mutual submission. At this stage, musicianship should have been addressed. The senior pastor should only be concerned with the candidate's spiritual life and leadership skills.

Garner music committee support.
Are you looking for someone to serve in a part- or full-time volunteer position? Do not ask a person to devote part-time hours while offering voluntary wages, a.k.a. nothing. If your church cannot afford to pay a music director, encourage the music committee to play a more active role in helping volunteer musicians do their job. If your church does not have a music committee, learn how to start one here. Also, read Discipleship Ministries' guide "Job Description for the Music Committee in a United Methodist Congregation."

Pony up.
If the budget allows for a part- or full-time position, remember what is required of the music director. They meet with the music committee to design services, learn new material, arrange songs, schedule, set up and lead practice rehearsals. The time spent practicing on Saturday or Sunday is extremely valuable, especially for music directors who work other jobs to support their family.

If you pay all other staff members to create a hospitable worship environment, you also should compensate the music director. He or she deserves to be blessed for the talents God has bestowed. Discipleship Ministries offers advice on the subject here: "Paying the Piper: A Consideration of Church Musicians' Salaries."

Be patient.
Do not worry if your church has to go without music for a while. As you know, there are plenty of other ways to worship. Just listen to God and focus on pursuing the right person for the job.

--Darby Jones is the eMarketing Manager at United Methodist Communications. Feel free to contact him at djones@umcom.org.