Working at Two Different Churches

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For a year and a half now, I have worked part-time for two different churches. I have been the Worship Director at Immanuel CRC in Caledon (Brampton) for about 13 years, and in September of 2015 I joined the staff at CrossPoint CRC in Brampton as Worship Ministry Team Leader. Today I posted a song for next Sunday’s worship on Immanuel’s Facebook page that was meant for CrossPoint. It’s the first time I’ve made an obvious mix-up between the 2 churches but it’s definitely not the first time my brain has been pulled in 2 different directions.

One of the biggest challenges of working at 2 churches is the scheduling for Sunday mornings. I schedule myself as lead player & worship leader (typically every other Sunday at each church) and then also schedule he other worship leaders/musicians on the Sundays I’m not there at each church. Sometimes my preferred choices can’t be accommodated because of musicians availability (they’re volunteers and apparently they have lives), and so I miss services at both churches that I would love to be at!

Immanuel is my home church, my “heart” community, the church where my husband has been lead pastor for 15 years and where we raised our kids for those years. So it’s hard to miss Easter there, or baptism services, or GEMS Sunday or Pentecost. But I knew that going into this new job at CrossPoint. The timing was right for many reasons in my own life: kids mostly grown-up and away from home; a strong worship band at Immanuel, and worship leaders there that needed a nudge to lead more often; and simply time for a new challenge for myself. (I wondered whether “an old dog” could still learn new tricks!). I believed that my gifts would make a difference at CrossPoint, so I applied and was offered the job.

A second challenge is the that each church has its own “culture” in terms of leadership, demographics, ethnicities, and ways of doing church. Very different. That means that what works for me at Immanuel may not work at CrossPoint and vice versa. The most common question I’m asked (as worship leader at 2 churches) is this: Can you plan the same services, or songs, or themes, or worship series at both churches? And the answer is almost always no. A song that one church LOVES (or the worship team loves) could be a flop at the other. The worship artist I have at one church is not mirrored at the other. Immanuel worships in a gym; CrossPoint worships in a traditional sanctuary. The volunteers I have available at each church vary as well, so of course the worship planning will be different too. At one church, kids are eager to be involved; at the other it’s more difficult to find practice times. You get the picture.

Would I recommend this 2-job scenario? I can really only recommend this situation for myself, not for anyone else. But if you love a challenge; can find 2 churches close enough to your home; don’t have kids that need you “in the pew” (or have a spouse that is willing to do that for you); and you love worship planning/leading and teaching/training and rehearsals and mentoring, then I would say “yes” you could make it work. God will make it clear. He did for me. 

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Ruth Ann, it's a comfort to read your article. I did the two-church thing as choir director/worship designer for ten years and resonate with all the challenges and delights you listed. Since one of my charges was CRC and the other RCA, there were interesting differences there, but the most helpful thing we did was combining the two choirs semi-regularly and singing in each other's worship services. Many were the times choir members expressed the wish to put aside all the denominational challenges that separated the two groups years ago and "do church" together all the time. I was personally blessed by having two pastors and two worshipping communities. I look back on those years with pleasure. 

Thanks Jan!  That is lovely that you shared music together with the choirs, great idea!   And good to know that others have done the two-church thing with success.  Blessings!

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Thanks for sharing your experience Ruth Ann.  With the number of churches searching for part time worship leadership this may be something for them to consider working with another local congregation on.  Some churches have shared pastors, some share youth leaders, it would take some imagination and coordination but your experience suggests it might also be possible to have shared worship leaders. 

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