I just celebrated my second over-50 birthday, time to retire from worship leading, right?

When are you Too Old To Rock ‘n’ Roll, Too Young To Die ? [Totally random link to the song by Jethro Tull , 1976 performance, and a bonus link to their 2008 performance]

Time to be put out to pasture?

My favorite worship blogger David Santistevan  has few posts on this topic, most recently How Do You Connect Older Musicians With The Younger?  “The old and the young, can’t we all just get along?”

And this posts asks:  How Do You Engage A Younger Generation In Worship?  Good question. Deserves some thought.

“They don’t hate you. They just have a hard time with your music.” 
“Your musical style is dated. Not intentionally, it just comes with age.”

Sad but true. Sometimes.

Vickie Beeching  cracked me up with this “you’re too old”  riff:

“10. Decide not to have a plan for what to do when you’re too old to lead worship:

You decide you want to be a worship leader for the rest of your working life. You ignore the thought that perhaps it’s important to let a younger generation take the baton from you. And that in music, often younger people can provide something more current and ‘hip’. But you decide you’re there forever! Hence why you shoot down any upcoming talent. You wear clothes way too young for you, and decide you’ll be the peter pan of the worship world. After all, God has called you to this! Why would you ever need to transition into something else? Who could EVER replace you?!… “

So when are you too old? Can you “age out”?

<Insert rant here:

Sure, if being youthful and in-style matters. Funny how they don’t say senior pastors  are too old once they’re over 45. Just the music guys. And it’s worse for music girls…

Why in God’s name should the church have the same value system as the entertainment industry? Young = in. Old = out. Now that’s a great witness …

End of rant.>

A better way to frame the “Are you too old” question is this,

“What is the right role for this season?”

It’s more than an age question, it’s an effectiveness question.

Is worship leading by definition a young person’s game? Like playing pro sports or being a rock star?

Not in my opinion. It’s more related to the vision and purpose of your church.

Is the church called to be an urban hipster outreach? Then the leaders need to be a good fit to that purpose.

Is the church called to represent the people of God as  “one big happy family” ? Then the leaders need to be a good fit for that purpose.

Sometimes the calling or vision of the church changes, or the calling of the worship dude or dudette changes. Sometimes you need to change.

It’s time to change when …

  1. You’re no longer effective in the role.
  2. People aren’t connecting with your leadership.
  3. You don’t love it anymore, but you’re hanging on to the gig for the wrong reasons.
  4. There are others ready to lead and they are not being given the opportunity.
  5. The Holy Spirit, or your intuition, says your season is up.

Nothing lasts forever.

Here’s my advice to older worship leaders.

Serve. Give yourself away. Raise up the next generation leaders. Include them. Give them opportunity to excel. Pass the baton. Here’s four practical strategies.

  1. Develop a succession mindset. There is no success without successors. Be intentional about mentoring leaders who can take your place. Then give them the keys to the car.
  2. Invest in teaching children (and youth) about worship and giving them kid-friendly, positive worship experiences. This is so important.
  3. Merge the generations on your teams and platforms. See this interview with Kent Henry for inspiration. Also on a regular basis, have the youth lead the whole church.
  4. Do specialized training like a weekend intensive or a youth worship band camp, like the School of Rock Worship.

Question: So what do you think? When is someone is too old to lead worship?