Homegrown Worship Leaders


baseballCongregations tend to plan and implement in the moment since Sunday comes every. single. week. So thinking about finding future players, singers, or even a primary worship leader is rarely a consideration…until a vacancy occurs.

Player development is what Major League Baseball calls the grooming of younger, less advanced players in their minor league system. The so-called farm teams provide mentoring, training, coaching, and practical experience for younger players with the expectation that as a player matures he will advance to a higher level of play and responsibility.

The genius of the farm system is that players get better by playing regularly in smaller venues instead of just waiting for an opening to play in the major leagues. So they are intentionally investing in younger players for the future of the team. A major league team with a weak farm system may have success for a time but will rarely carry that success into the future.

The value of worship player development is realized when a congregation attempts to fill a vacancy. What most find is that the pool of potential replacements out there is often very shallow. Those who are available are often unknown and don’t always resonate with the culture of the searching congregation.

Implementing a farm team model of developing younger, less advanced players from in here can offer a trusted and familiar resource pool for future players, singers, or primary leaders. And investing in those who already understand the culture, personality, worship language, and mission of your church has a greater potential for future success.

If churches want great worship leaders in the future, they must invest in not yet great worship leaders in the present. Imagine then, one of those congregations so effectively implementing this player development model that they are able to groom more worship leaders than they have places for them to serve. Then, imagine the Kingdom value of that congregation getting to farm-out those trained leaders to other congregations who were not as prepared to fill their own vacancies.


7 Responses to “Homegrown Worship Leaders”

  • Steve Witwicki Says:

    Just got done reading Bill Easum’s recent book—”Effective Staffing for Vital Churches” and in it he repeatedly talks about apprenticeship. Cites examples of a church that happens to be in my backyard that lives and breathes that strategy in a multi-site operation. Turns out my son is on one of the teams for one of the satellite locations and he confirmed the story—says they continually preach that everyone needs to have an apprentice: worship leaders, vocalists, guitar players, tech people, you name it. It’s part of their DNA. Makes sense. Obviously though, there’s also something to be said , especially for musical leadership, for more formal instruction and experience in order to arrange, chart, lead, select tunes, etc. Not everything is easily handed down in an informal manner.

  • Mark Cole Says:

    I’ve been blessed to have many young men and woman go into full time worship ministry after serving with me. (I’ve been in full time ministry for over 30 years and seen dozens of people grow up and learn to lead in our teams)
    I believe that:
    1. Churches need to spend about 10% of their budget to support the music and worship ministry in their house (salaries, sound & media systems, musical instruments, etc.)
    2. Worship leaders need to get all the musical and spiritual training they can.. they also need to grow up under a good mentor. (I have a B. Music degree and mentored and travelled under 3 different leaders… Doug Moody, Larry Dalton and Don Moen)
    3. I believe that young musicians should serve on the Sunday worship team and learn to lead during the youth and young adult services..
    4. I also believe that people shouldn’t be given leadership responsibilities at too young a age.. ideally they should be mentored in their 20’s and take leadership at the age of 30..

  • Gary Trobee Says:

    Great post.

    The church needs to change the way it thinks about leaders of all ministries. We tend to promote the most talented person in the room rather than the best equipper.

    Until we see leaders as coaches and mentors rather than high capacity doers we will continue to have the cycle of “vacancy” in leadership positions.

    Thanks for the post and the opportunity to comment.

  • Dennis Allen Says:

    Totally love this idea, David! Now that I will be teaching at Truett-McConnell starting this fall, Nan and I have begun to dream even bigger dreams about how to best invest in future worship leaders. My first objective is of course focused on the Truett students. But I’d love to create a “farm team” approach just like you are talking about through a conference event at Truett. So many of the conferences around the country are for current worship leaders. Our dream is something more for high school or early college perhaps; a training event for those with limited, or even no experience. Your words are true: “The foundation of the minor league system is to invest in younger players for the future of the team.” We are seeing more and more worship leaders already in place with limited training. This has long-term implications. My dad. who was a pastor for over 50 years, told me this when I told him the Lord was calling me into music ministry: “a call to the ministry is a call to prepare.”

  • Berta Says:

    When a church is seeking a good part-time music director … to lead the choir and the worship in a blended service … and at our church the Personnel Committee does that … how do you get a person who really has some music understanding and training, at least a little understanding of music theory and how it all fits together. Sometimes such a committee hears someone sing a solo, it sounds good to them, they recommend, the church “calls,” and the new choir director can’t read music very much at all? I know this sounds impossible, but I’ve seen it happen. All the music director knows how to sing is the melody

  • Milton Ferguslon Says:

    Here you go again, David! Another insightful, helpful analysis! The “art of leadership” is developed best within the experience and practice of apprenticeship. Of course, It takes planning and coaching to do what you suggest. Nevertheless, It’s an investment that pays rich dividends – for both the master and the apprentice, as well as those who gather to worship. .

  • Who Is On Your Farm Team? | Worship Links Says:

    […] for him to lead. He’s part of my farm team, as David Manner writes about in his post Why Your Church Can’t Find Worship Leadership: Farm teams provide mentoring, training, coaching, and practical experience for younger players […]

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