Summer is a great time for worship leaders to take a Sunday off here and there to recharge their batteries. But here’s the problem: is there anyone you can trust to lead your congregation while you’re gone?
At one ministry where I worked, a church plant that started in a school auditorium, I went a solid two years without missing a Sunday – not because I was some super warrior of the Faith, but because there was absolutely nobody to lead the music if I was gone. This is definitely a recipe for burnout!
As time went on and the church grew, I became friends with local worship leaders who could fill in when I took a vacation (I paid them a small honorarium) and we eventually got to the place where people groomed on the praise team could lead in my absence.
If you’re considering a guest worship leader to fill your shoes, look for someone with a similar theological, denominational and musical background. A Baptist church might be freaked out by a charismatic worship leader who starts singing in the spirit at the end of a chorus. A conservative worship leader friend of mine recently told me how he felt like a fish out of water when he was asked to lead worship at a church with Gospel style music.
If you want your fill-in to come from your own congregation, choose someone from your worship team who’s been tested. It’s a good idea to be training others all year long so if you need a week off your replacement already knows the drill. Give others on your team a chance to grow by letting them step out occasionally and lead a song or pray. Your vacation substitute may actually be two substitutes – one person may just feel comfortable as lead singer while another would just feel comfortable leading the congregation in prayer while singing background vocals.
If budget allows, a “professional” worship leader/Christian artist can fill in and perhaps help take your worship to another level. This professional, used to leading worship in churches all over the country, can quickly size up a congregation and challenge the people in ways that the resident worship leader can’t.
Bottom Line: a carefully selected substitute worship leader can give a much needed break to overworked music directors.