Because I am a worship leader (and future church planter), I found this post by Donald Zimmerman over at The Resurgence to be interesting. It reflects a number of insights that I find quite helpful to see articulated this way.

Most helpful though is this simple observation:

“…consider the following: if your average church-goers attend a 90 minute service, three times a month, they will give you 54 hours of their attention annually. Depending on liturgy, your worship leader will get roughly 18-27 of those hours. Your worship leader sounds like a wise place to invest your time, doesnʼt it?”

Did you get that? Potentially a full third to a full HALF of the time a congregation spends in church services throughout the course of one year is given over to the worship leader. This fact could have been at the top of the post, framing and contextualizing the rest of the post, which challenges the pastor or church planter with some values-based suggestions.

But there is one thing this post does not do (and this is where my experience as a worship leader might prove helpful) – it doesn’t tell me, the potential church planter or pastor, which value to place higher on the priority scale.

So here is some practical wisdom. If faced with the decision to have worship led at your church by either a skilled musician (who lacks gospel maturity) OR a not-so-skilled musician (who demonstrates gospel maturity), always err in favor of the person who demonstrates gospel maturity. The reason is very simple:

Musical skill can be learned with some very simple steps, gospel maturity (or Christian character) is only learned over time and through many disappointments, toils, snares, humiliations, failures, etc.

In this situation, one of the best things you can do for the great musician who can’t articulate the Gospel to save his life is to (gently) place him under the leadership of someone who can demonstrate character and encourage him to grow in grace by modeling a life separated for the Lord. And, conversely, one of the best things you can do for the mature believer who may need skill development is to put them in a position where they are challenged to improve their skills by someone whom they are leading (AND tell them to go take lessons). This provides an opportunity for both people to be challenged in the area that they personally need to be challenged in, and avoids each of them turning their area of strength into a vice or an idol.

Obviously, meeting with, encouraging, praying with each of these kinds of people is going to be necessary as you lead the flock by the grace of God, and this where the initial observation comes back in. Regardless of who is standing at that microphone on a week-to-week basis, invest in your worship leader(s). FIND THE TIME to talk, not just about leading worship and things that have to do with Sunday, but know your worship leader, know their life, their ideas, read what they read, hang with your worship leader, show your worship leader that they are important to you. This single element will go a long way towards developing a leader you and your people can follow.