Let’s be honest, ageism is alive and well in the church. As a worship pastor, once you hit 35 it can be very hard to find employment.
I recall a conversation I had a few years back decrying this trend. My friend had led worship for tens of thousands, & his songs had charted in both CCLI & the Christian Top 40, yet even he felt the tension. The average contemporary, Bible-believing church wanted a Unicorn to be their worship leader/pastor – a mythological creature that didn’t exist. We joked that if the job descriptions were honest they’d read like this:
“WANTED: young, sexy, charismatic (as in, people are drawn to him), newly married, expert multi-instrumentalist, with strong vocal abilities & cutting-edge taste in clothing & hairstyles, extensively degreed, with 8+ years of experience leading worship for a congregation of at least 5,000+. Bonus points if you love all sports, climb mountains, & surf.”
We had a good laugh, but it was a different sort of laugh – a chuckle with a touch of sadness. It was sad because we both knew that we were better pastors – better worship leaders – than we were 10 or even 15 years prior. Maturity had made us less the superstar, & more the discipler/mentor – less driven by our own taste, & more committed to the local church – more learned in the Bible & theology, but carried by a deep awareness of the need to honor others.
Mike Harland, the Director of Lifeway Worship, recently published his thoughts on this in THE OVER 50 WORSHIP LEADER. In it he paints a positive picture of the maturity every worship pastor should aim to, & it’s a must read!