02 08

Interview questions to ask ministers

50 Suggested Questions for Ministers of Music and Worship Leaders Interviewing with a Prospective Church

Courtesy of Dr. Mike Simoneaux, Vice President for Academic Services, Truett-McConnell College, Cleveland, Georgia

In the March/April 1999, issue of Creator, an original version of this article appeared. Mike has updated the 50 questions to fit today’s music ministry and we’re making it available here as our “list for the day,” and at the Creator Leadership Network page on facebook.

I have personally used Mike’s questions (at least some of them…and he cautions to not just pull out a piece of paper with the whole list while in the midst of an interview!), and found them to be really helpful. I have learned to preface asking the questions by saying something like the following:

“Is there anything else I can answer for you, because if not, I have a few questions I’d like to ask you as a committee [or pastor, or committee chair, or potential fellow staff member, etc.].”

Obviously, some of these questions are more “denominationally specific” than others. Feel free to modify/adjust depending upon your own specific situation. The questions are grouped by category for ease in reference.

The Call/Hire Procedure

1. Is the MoM/WL* called by the church or hired by the pastor?
2. How is the process of call/hire finalized? Does the church vote to call the new person, or is it a pastor decision?
3. Is there a written contract in the call/hire procedure?
4. To whom is the MoM/WL directly responsible?
5. Will the MoM/WL have direct access to the pastor?
6. What are the other ministerial staff positions? Does the person have a full-time, part-time or pool secretary? Is there a weekly staff meeting for calendar, details, and planning?


7. Would you describe the music program, its components, and level of participation by the church family?
8. Has there been a change in the level of music participation in the last five years—negative or positive? Reasons?
9. Describe as accurately as you can the keyboard ability of the accompanist(s). Are they compensated?
10. Is there a current worship style for the service(s)? Does the music leader conduct the congregational singing?
11. Does the worship style accurately reflect the nature of the congregation?
12. If not, is change desired and does the congregation desire to change, or is the pastor encouraging the change?
13. Is there a procedure in place for any changes that would not injure the fellowship of the church?
14. Is there a worship planning team functioning, and does the pastor ever meet with the team?
15. Does the pastor choose or have influence in the selection of hymns/choruses?
16. How many worship services are there, and is there a difference in styles?
17. Does the church have or plan to have worship services on days other than Sunday morning?
18. What are the specific responsibilities of the MoM/WL for the worship services? Does this position plan, lead and manage a praise team of singers and/or band?
19. Would the staff person have the freedom to experiment and is any failure an option?
20. Does the church utilize screens to project announcements/words. Does the church use a hymnal in worship? If so, which hymnal?
21. Describe the traditions of the church music program, if any, such as A Living Christmas Tree?
22. What is the personality of the church?
23. What are the “potholes” one can avoid?
24. What instruments, besides piano/organ are used in worship? Are instrumentalists compensated?
25. Are there non-music duties that accompany this position?
26. Are there responsibilities for committee leadership? If so, what committees?
27. Who is responsible for the sound system and other technological operations? Is the system up-to-date, average, or below average?
28. What is the expectation by the church as it relates to large production-type presentations such as Christmas, Easter and other special events?
29. Are there functioning choir/orchestra officers and/or worship team leaders?
30. Is there a music committee and/or a music advisory committee?
31. What are the expectations for the staff spouse?
32. Is there a weekly church newsletter and/or choir paper?
33. Is there an annual staff conference or evaluation?
34. If so, who carries out the evaluation and what is the evaluation instrument?
35. Is there a written job description for this position and if so, is a copy available?
36. What is the budget for the music ministry? Is this budget negotiable for the immediate future?

Compensation/Benefit Issues

37. Is the church budget available for viewing? Is a credit card made available to staff for church use?
38. Is there, at this time, a suggested salary/benefits package?
39. Is there a written letter of agreement stating the full compensation package?
40. How is Social Security deducted? If the church pays SS, is that amount added to the taxable salary?
41. Does the church match staff retirement contributions? If so, what percentage?
42. Are there other benefits?
43. How many vacation days?
43. Is staff encouraged to take a day off regularly? Are there specific or varied office hours?
44. Are there professional development funds available in the music budget?
45. If so, how many workshops may staff members attend?
46. What is the policy for this position regarding revivals, funerals, and weddings?


47. What is the computer technology used in the music office and does the church use a Windows or Mac platform?
48. Does the church have wireless Internet connection in the office area?
49. Is the pastor and other staff technologically literate?


50. What would you like to tell me about the church, this position, the possibilities for growth in the music ministry, or other matters that would help make a thoughtful and beneficial decision?

MoM: Minister of Music WL: Worship Leader

Tagged as: Creator Leadership Network, Mike Simoneaux, Truett-McConnell College

interview questions to ask ministers

We can't just say, "I'll give it my best shot!" We need to think through what the ministries in our church are all about. Our ministries must be good stewards of all they've been given. For that to happen, we've got to plan ministry strategically.

There are seven important questions that need to be answered when you're planning an effective ministry. These are questions for any healthy ministry - whether it's your music ministry, greeters, small group leaders, or any other ministry team.

1. Why are you here?

Every ministry in your church should have a clear idea of what it's all about. Each one needs a purpose statement. You develop that statement by asking two questions: What is the business of this ministry? And what is none of this ministry's business?

What's the business of Saddleback? We attract members, teach them to worship God, develop them to Christlike maturity, and mobilize them for ministry in the church and a life mission in the world. We do that in each stage and segment of their lives. If something doesn't fit within that mission statement, we don't do it.

Every ministry within your church needs a purpose statement like that.

The Community has different needs than the Committed. The Congregation has different needs than the Core. Knowing who your ministry is trying to serve will influence how the ministry operates.

4. Where do you believe God is calling your ministry to be in six months?

This is the stage where your ministry leaders dream. Where would they like to see the ministry six months from now? If your ministry leaders can't think about the future, they aren't ready to lead the ministry. Ask your ministry leaders to get away with God and talk to him about the ministry's future.

5. How does your ministry do what it has been called to do?

Did you know that your body has nine systems in it? When any one of those systems gets out of order, it's called an illness or disease. The church (the body of Christ) has systems in it as well. And for us to be healthy our systems have to work properly. How do your ministries do what they've been called to do? Ask your ministry leaders to think and pray about how to do ministry more effectively.

6. Who can you partner with to do what God has called you to do?

Your ministry leaders need to constantly be on the watch for people who can join them in ministry.

" Ask your ministry leaders to begin praying for more laborers.

7. In what way do you serve people?

Your ministries should serve the people in your community. Are you meeting physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual needs (or a combination thereof)? All of those needs are valid. Part of understanding the identity of your ministries is to know how each of them serves people. Then look for ways you can add value to the services those ministries provide. In other words, look for ways each of your ministries can do a better job providing for the physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual needs of the community.


Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and best-known churches. In addition, Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose-Driven Life and The Purpose-Driven Church, which was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th Century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for ministers. Copyright 2005 Pastors.com, Inc. Used with permission. All rights reserved.


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