Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Hired Guns

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep." (John 10:11-13)
Recently, I've come across a couple of large churches who, because they say they "value excellence", hire worship leaders from other churches (or who aren't part of a faith community anywhere) to come and lead the congregational worship.

Not surprisingly, these worship-leaders-for-hire don't become part of the community of the church, even on a home group level; they only come to services when they're paid to, and remain aloof or absent from all aspects of the church's life the rest of the time. They are simply hired guns.

They do nothing to develop younger worship leaders or musicians, they simply get the best musicians they can find, and exclusively use them. Nothing is ever done to train, encourage, and develop younger or less skilled players -- they are either of no use to the church, or they have to hone their skills somewhere else and come back "when they're excellent".

The ethos that this must set for the congregations at these churches is staggering in its implications. It also reveals a lot about the church leaders who hired these mercenary musicians.

I don't think it's too far of a stretch to apply John 10:11-13 to these hired guns. They don't care for the flock. They have nothing invested in community. They leave when they get a better offer, when hard times hit, or when they get bored.

At the same time, I also value excellence -- excellence in character, excellence in humility, excellence in relationships, excellence in honesty and integrity, and excellence in broken-ness.

That's the kind of worship leader that can be safely trusted with the flock.

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