The heart of worship: Part 3

For a pastoral ministries student, I found taking a Worship Leadership class to be essential, in spite of my personal musical talent. What I particularly found most useful was learning about the pastoral (shepherding) heart of a worship leader/pastor. Related to this, I also found the worship leader/church pastor relationship to be of interest.

Let’s pick up from where we left off last week:

7. The practical aspects of Worship leadership

It is certainly important for the worship leader to have many personal spiritual things in check for his or her role, but it shouldn’t go without saying that there are practical aspects of worship leadership that need to be addressed. Among these aspects are proper communications with the pastor (more on this later), taking the time to prepare a song list, have ample time to rehearse with the worship team, have a thorough sound check (led by the sound engineer, not the worship team or worship leader), make sure the lyrics are ready for projection and that the projection machine is working, dress like a professional (according to the church’s culture), and be aware of non-verbal communication from himself and the worship team.

8. Working with Pastors: A pastor’s potential view of worship 

It’s unfortunate, but true, that not every pastor can really relate to the worship leading experience the way that the worship leader, the worship team and perhaps the tech team can. Worship is not every pastor’s bailiwick, and it would do well for the worship leader to be prepared in advance if some personal challenges with the way a pastor might view worship arise.

A pastor might look at the worship time as a “warm up” to the sermon. As such, the pastor might look at the worship time as secondary (not primary, as stated earlier). Therefore, if anything in the service is going to get cut short due to a skit, communion, altar call, special presentation or song, it will likely be the worship portion of the service, not the sermon.

9. Working with Pastors: Pastor/worship leader relationship 

Unless the worship leader is also the pastor, which in some churches is the case, there should be a healthy relationship between the pastor and worship leader. What does a healthy relationship between the two look like?

  • The two should walk in unity, carrying out a shared vision of the church.
  • There should be a shared accountability between the two.
  • There should be trust, honesty and respect built and retained between the two.
  • There should be constant communication between the two regarding any Sunday service planning
  • Any conflicts should addressed and taken care of as soon as possible.

10. Working with Pastors: Heads Up 

Pastors—Heads Up: A pastor should recognize and respect the placement of a particular person as the head of a department or team. This may seem obvious, but for some pastors, there can be a real temptation to get in the way if a team leader (whether worship or otherwise) isn’t doing things ‘just right’ according to how the pastor might see things. A worship leader/pastor needs room to take on responsibilities, learn from mistakes, succeed, be creative, do things ‘just right’ according to the vision the Lord gave him/her. This is better for not only the worship leader, but also for the pastor, who will avoid stress and burnout if he is too involved in something that isn’t his calling or duly recognized place of leadership. He will also avoid getting in the way of God!

Worship Leader—Heads Up: The worship leader needs to lead in a capacity that is somewhat independent, yet still under his own shepherd. This can be a delicate balance for both the worship leader and pastor, which is why the pastor’s ability to allow the worship leader some freedom (mentioned above), yet maintain some bit of oversight, is essential. Also as mentioned earlier, the worship leader needs to be aware of, and respectful toward the limitations of his time on stage. The worship portion of the service is given an allotted amount of time, and the worship leader needs to understand the delicate balance of listening to The Spirit and respecting the arranged order of the service. Therefore, the worship leader should not take an elongated worship time without permission from the pastor. Let the pastor be responsible for obeying or disobeying the Spirit.

In the end, there is still so much more to say, both on the practical side of the role of a worship leader and on the spiritual side. In any case, it is vital for a pastor to study the role and responsibility of a worship leader so that the pastor/worship leader relationship has an opportunity to be healthy and grow, rather than be a mess. 

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