Before jumping into the topic, I want to outline a clear disclaimer. If you have read my blog, website, writings (published in popular worship magazines), heard me speak at a conference or even read my recent book, you will likely catch the fact that one of my passions and callings in life is to equip people, raise up new leaders and develop younger worship leaders. In fact, for most of the 20 years I have been leading worship I have spent many years developing training and mentoring younger people. The goal for me is to release people called to ministry, regardless of their age, into a maturity, skillfulness and wisdom in using their gifting for the glory of God and benefit of the church.
That said, this article and interviews deal with something related to age. However, I do not want to be misunderstood. This is not an article directed to young people. This is an article and topic directed to pastors, ministers, eldership and leadership of local churches.
Author, speaker, Episcopal priest, and retreat facilitator Ian Morgan Cron helps with some excellent and succinct thoughts on the topics at hand. The purpose of the article is to unearth the issues and to begin talking about it. Please contribute to the discussion, post your thoughts, and get your local church leadership involved. It’s an important issue that church leadership needs to consider.
Several months ago I met a friend for tea and conversation. This friend is a well known, world traveled, award-winning artist, songwriter and worship leader. This person is in their 40’s, very much in demand around the world and recording albums. My friend is seen as a mentor to many other creative, artists, songwriters, and worship leaders. We were catching up on a couple years of happenings, when my friend said something in passing that jolted me a bit.
My friend said, "It's sad to see people who are not ready, replacing people who are mature in their gifting".
"What do you mean?", I asked.
"Kim, you don’t understand what is happening out there. I go to churches everywhere. Big churches, ‘happening churches’, ‘in churches’, and there is a sad trend going on. The big thing in ‘growing churches’ is that you don’t keep or hire a worship leader unless they are under 30", my friend exclaimed, "honestly, in almost every church I go to that you hear of as a ‘cool’, ‘up-and-coming’ or ‘growing’ church- they simply won’t hire a worship leader who isn’t under 30."
My friend and I continued our discussion, but I was so surprised by what they said, it stayed in my mind for days.
Another time last year, I was doing a consulting call with a church who asked for some help with how to transition from one worship leader to another. The goal of the pastor- to move to younger music. The worship leader being replaced was 60 years old. The new guy- mid-20s.
A few months ago, I had the opportunity to meet with and interview author Ian Morgan Cron (Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim's Tale, and Jesus, My Father, The CIA, and Me: A Memoir. . . of Sorts ). In addition to speaking with me about his books and recent writing, he graciously talked to me about worship as well. In that conversation, I was surprised he began talking about his early work as a songwriter/artist in Nashville. We struck down the road of music, worship and church. At one point he talked about writing as a creative outlet that allowed him to continue in it at any age- as opposed to music artist/songwriting which often demanded youth. I realized for the first time he was talking about something I’d been hearing in church as well. I wondered if Ian might have some thoughts on the topic of age and music and worship.
What resulted was a great interview, that I have broken into 3 short clips dealing with the following topics:
- Ageism In The Church
- Commodified Religion
- Women in Worship Leading.
What I love about Ian is that he has distilled a number of important points into a crisp discussion. There is more to be said, but he gets right to the point of some of the important underlying issues that are propelling decisions in local churches. Are we discriminating in our local churches for the sake of money, filling seats, and competing with the church down the road?
Now, please, contribute your thought below. This topic needs discussion and working out.
Again, many thanks to Ian Morgan Cron for spending time for these interviews. If you get a chance, I strongly encourage you to check out his books Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim's Tale, and Jesus, My Father, The CIA, and Me: A Memoir. . . of Sorts. I have read Chasing Francis and am now reading Jesus, My Father, the CIA and Me- both are excellent!
in Christ's love,