Do you need an employment consultant?

Is your parish seeking to employ a church music director or organist? Does your church’s music program need invigorating? If so, you might consider the use of a church music employment consultant.

Keith Shafer is a pioneer in this particular aspect of parish life. A nationally acclaimed church musician, he has more than 30 years of experience directing choirs, playing the organ, assisting churches obtain organs, leading church music conferences and workshops, and during the last several years, offering consulting services for parishes seeking to employ music directors and organists.

How can an employment consultant assist your church in its search? Mr. Shafer has a unique perspective on parish life and music’s role in fostering it. He understands that clergy and parish councils are looking for energetic candidates whose leadership skills are as important as their musical talent. He can meet with clergy and laypeople and help them set realistic goals for the music program. He can assist the church develop a workable position description. He can manage the advertisements required in seeking qualified candidates. He can assist the church in narrowing the candidate field to a short list. He can manage the audition process for the selection committee and provide valuable insights into the skills and abilities of the candidates. And he can articulate to the church the broad perspectives of the search process.

As an example of how a church music employment consultant works, this is a brief description of a recent project:

The parish’s music director and organist resigned to take another position. A significant reason for the resignation was the poor condition of the church’s electronic organ. The parish decided to replace the old organ, examine the position description, and energize its music program. Mr. Shafer was retained as both organ and employment consultant. In the short-term, the church employed substitute musicians while it worked on both the organ and employment issues. Within six months a new electronic organ was obtained. The committee conducted several meetings to discuss the parish music program and formulate a job description. During the deliberations it became obvious that the parish desired more than the budget would make possible and it became necessary to focus the position on only the most important responsibilities. The committee assumed that a significant number of candidates would express interest. The employment consultant helped to moderate the assumptions of the church and as events turned out, three candidates emerged. Mr. Shafer conducted the musical portions of the auditions and was present for the interviews with the candidates. The parish’s music program is now stable and growing and the church has a better understanding of the music director’s role and responsibilities.

Parishes wishing to make wise decisions typically seek the counsel of persons skilled in various areas. Architects design buildings, liturgical and acoustical consultants assist with furnishings and matters pertaining to sound, organ consultants are experienced with the various aspects of organbuilding. Church music is a very specialized area with far-reaching implications for parish life. Could an advisor with insights into this field help your church make more sound decisions?