This post launches a new series of articles which will biblically critique pastoral job openings posted on the official Southern Baptist job search engine. Given the state of American evangelicalism, it is far past time for such an examination. Do local churches have biblical expectations for upcoming pastors? That’s the question that the SBC Job Search series will seek to answer. Are you a member of a pulpit or personnel committee at a Baptist Church? Please send your potential job advertisements to firstname.lastname@example.org for biblical critique and feedback.
Worship Arts Pastor: Chattanooga Valley Baptist Church
Chattanooga Valley Baptist Church in Flinstone, GA is searching for a Worship Arts Pastor. As a pastor, this individual is expected to minister to “the church body and volunteers within the worship and media ministries.” This is a reasonable and biblical expectation. Most of the language in the job posting is what one would expect to find in an advertisement for a music minister. Yet the language related “desired results” of this Worship Arts Pastor’s work raises red flags. The church’s twelve desired results are listed below, with questionable areas highlighted in red.
1. Prepare an environment in which non-believers can experience the power of the Holy Spirit in corporate worship.
2. Lead the church body to grow in faith by encountering Jesus in corporate worship.
3. Integrate the worship, media and preaching ministries into a unified, seamless presentation during corporate worship.
4. Develop, lead and grow worship ministry for all age groups.
5. Increase worship ministry volunteer participation.
6. Produce disciples who make disciples within the worship and media ministries.
7. Develop key leaders within the worship and media ministries.
8. Develop and lead the church’s technology strategy and implementation, including utilization of social media.
9. Increase awareness in the Valley and surrounding areas regarding the church’s ministries.
10. Increase awareness of the church’s mission and core values to the church body.
11. Create a positive brand image of the church, its members and its ministries.
12. Exhibit continuous growth in the areas of leadership, teamwork and personal holiness.
Desires five and eleven read like an advertisement for a sales position. Exactly what is the “brand image” of a local church? Is Jesus for sale? Several scriptures speak to the importance of maintaining a good reputation, most notably Matthew 5:16 and 1 Peter 2:12. However, these ancient texts are far removed from the modern business concept of “branding”. That this church is looking to maintain and present a “brand image” indicates that it may have an unhealthily business-oriented model. Furthermore, is it fair for a music minister to be expected to “increase” volunteer participation in the music ministry? Shouldn’t this work be left up to the Holy Spirit? What if 100% of qualified church members are already volunteering to the best of their availability? Again, desires five and eleven seem to read more like marching orders for a salesman than the charges of a gospel minister.
Desire two is unclear. If the church expects the pastor to lead worship songs that teach biblical Christology (“encounter Jesus”), then the desire is laudable. However, if the pastor is expected to facilitate mystical encounters with Jesus through musical performance, then this desire is unreasonable. Corporate worship should not be understood as an “encounter” with Jesus but rather as an act directed toward the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Scripture teaches that Jesus has departed Earth and sent the Holy Spirit to minister to the church (John 16:7). Despite misunderstandings of Matthew 18:20, New Testament Christians should not expect to mystically encounter Jesus during corporate worship.
Desired result number one is disturbing in that it seems to betray a lack of understanding about the nature of the church and the nature of the world. The pastor is expected to “prepare a worship environment” that caters to the needs of non-Christians. This should not be the intended purpose of corporate worship or the number one priority of a worship pastor. While non-Christians can attend a worship-service, they cannot truly participate. Simply put, the church is the people of God. A gathering of the church on the Lord’s Day, is a gathering of the people of God. The worship the church produces is intended for God’s honor and praise and should result in the edification of God’s people. Those outside of the church cannot produce such praise or be so edified because their minds are hostile towards God (Romans 8:6-7). Jesus commissioned the church to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19). This involves getting outside the door of the church building during the week. Lost people may walk into a church service, hear the gospel, and come to faith and Christ. However, the worship service should not primarily be designed to facilitate such an experience. Furthermore, the saving of a soul is the work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8) A corporate worship service should not be structured as a spectacle to show lost people the power of the Holy Spirit. Additionally, no pastor can be expected to “prepare an environment” in which lost people will “experience the power of the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit is God; it is wrong-headed to presume that the right song selection and performance can cause Him to move upon the hearts of men. It’s likely that desire number one stems from a sincere longing to see lost people won to Christ. However, it also stems from an apparent misunderstanding about the power of men and the power of God.
*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.