Worship Leader, Worship Pastor, or Musician

I was recently talking with a friend who’s launching a church and he asked me what my expectations would be if I were interviewing or hiring someone to lead worship for a church plant – here are my thoughts.

-I’ve seen 3 camps of people who lead worship. None of these are worse or better than any other, they’re just based on the needs and vision of the church.

I’ve seen lots of this in Nashville. This category (for me) is made of great players and vocalists who stand on front of the stage. Their ability to lead people into worship is non-existent. They deliver a good quality show that people applaud – often people just sit and watch these people exhibit their talents on the stage. These folks are most commonly found in the extreme seeker-sensitive church or in new church plants who are just looking to fill spots. The guys usually practice a chart according to a CD and they don’t vary. If it’s a single chorus, they’re going to keep it that way.

Worship Leaders
These folks are typically passionate about leading people into worship. They’ve taken it from musicianship to helping facilitate and serve others. These folks usually spend time prepping by writing charts, working arrangements, and plugging in the right musicians to the right spots. They do a good job on the stage of not just standing and singing but actually prompting the band of where to go (repeats, breaks, etc.) and helping the worshipers by giving them directions (sing that again, feeding the next word or phrase) and sometimes change songs on the spot to follow what’s happening in the room at the time. These folks often have good relationships with their teams and have developed great leadership skills.

Worship Pastors

My dad had this title at FC – I had this title at UC. I hear a lot of churches toss this title around and give it to lots of people who aren’t (and more importantly, aren’t interested in) pastors. Pastors are shepherds – more than just a leader, they shepherd the people who serve with them. They usually exhibit all of the items I wrote about in the Worship Leader section. The problem with those who are Worship Pastors, is that Sr. Pastors are often looking for less pastoring and more music-oriented serving from them. Another problem worship “pastors” run into is that they tend to draw people to themselves rather than to the vision of the church. It is good to have these folks in a church plant when you’re short on staff – they can multi-task to handle music and and shepherding people in the church.

What do you think?



4 thoughts on “Worship Leader, Worship Pastor, or Musician

  1. Hey man,
    Another title you left out is the one I currently “officially” hold, which is “Worship Director”. I say “Officially’ because though it’s my “on-job-description” title, I refer to myself frequently as the Worship Pastor.

    Why pastor?

    Because I find myself shepherding, counseling, mentoring, teaching, and leading quite a bit off the stage. The team of musicians and singers that serve in the worship ministry are like a large-small group to me, and I’m overseeing this. I frequently call them, visit with them, email them, dialog and “shepherd” them. As a Worship Leader, I’m also pouring into them personally and corporately as a team.

    I’ve also found that in a larger church, there are even more team-dynamics at work in regards to personal issues, conflicts, etc. On many occasions I’ve found myself in the role of a “counselor”, just listening, hearing hurts and pain, and then being in a place where they are looking to me for some guidance on what to do.

    All that said, I’m not a big “titles” guy, really. You can “be” whatever it is God called you to be … the “title” for recognition isn’t so important – the gifts will make way for themselves.

    Just my $.02.


  2. Pingback: Titles « For the Journey

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