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Recruiting and Retaining Church Musicians


If you’re a music director, chances are you’ve faced challenges with getting new people into music ministry and keeping them in it. I’m a violist and I’ve played at many churches over the years, both as a member and as a guest. Here are some tips—advised from a church musician herself—for talking with musicians, recruiting them into music ministry, and retaining them.

Set Clear Expectations

When you’re talking with people about participating in music ministry, set your expectations up-front. By giving prospective musicians specific information, you’ll help them consider how much time and energy it will take to serve in music ministry. Knowing this information ahead of time makes the commitment seem more manageable and doable, so they are more likely to say yes.

When recruiting prospective musicians, make sure to communicate your expectations about things like these:

  • When in the service they will perform
  • Whether they will read sheet music or improvise
  • Who they will perform with
  • How many services they will perform in

You also may want to consider allowing new musicians to commit for a short period of time before permanently joining your rotation. Ask new musicians to perform in one service and see how it goes. If they have a positive experience, they will be more likely to commit to long-term service.

Personalize the Experience

Learn musicians’ individual strengths to find out what they’re comfortable with. Some musicians may feel comfortable performing a solo the first time. Others may prefer to perform in an ensemble or to do a duet with the organ first. Gently introduce new musicians into music ministry by placing them into settings in which they are most comfortable.

Also, consider when in the service musicians are performing. Musicians who are hesitant or nervous may prefer to accompany the congregation while they are singing rather than to play a solo during the offering. After musicians feel comfortable performing the first few times, they may be open to expanding their service in the future.

Optimize Rehearsal Time

Consider musicians’ schedules outside of church to determine what is the best use of their time. During a lengthy or mid-week rehearsal, use the time to really dig into the music. Challenge the musicians and push them to perform their very best. If you only plan to do a quick run-through of the service music, consider holding that rehearsal before the service on Sunday rather than during the week. Making the rehearsal schedule appropriate for what you plan to accomplish during rehearsals can increase attendance and help retain musicians.

Want more tips for your music ministry?

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Written by

Erica Tape

Erica is a writer and editor in St. Louis with grand plans to write award-winning literary novels and to visit all seven continents. She was previously a copywriter at CPH and now works in the advancement office at Concordia Seminary. She is also currently pursuing an MFA in creative writing at Lindenwood University.



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