This list is definitely not exhaustive, but in my opinion it is what separates a worship pastor from a musician, a leader, or an administrator. An effective worship pastor must always be doing all of these things. Keep in mind, none of us can do all of these things equally well. None of us have reached the top in any area, let alone all of them. The important thing is that we never stop trying to get better in these categories.
A worship pastor has got to be a good leader. This is probably, and I’d defend this, the toughest leadership job in the church (Sorry, lead pastors). Why? The worship pastor leads artists. Artists can be very tough to lead. They are also responsible for the logical people that tend to flock to tech and sound positions. Having to lead both groups is a challenge in itself because they can fall so far on the ends of the spectrum. The worship pastor has to be able to understand and communicate with creatives and logicals. The worship pastor also has one of the biggest responsibilities, which is structuring the main corporate worship service. That means that we bear the burden of everything that goes wrong. I will also add that music is an incredibly touchy subject. This is pretty obvious from these ridiculous “worship wars.” Either way, it’s a pretty tough job, but leading people well is one that a worship pastor must do.
Growing and learning spiritually
When we stop learning, we stop bettering ourselves. No one can say “I’ve arrived” spiritually. As soon as a person or a church says that, they die. Stopping spiritual growth, for whatever reason, is the quickest way to make a poor worship pastor. Learning from the Bible, small groups, and resources is incredibly important because it keeps making us better at our jobs. Every time I read something, whether it’s the Bible, an article, or a new book, I’m trying to learn something and apply it to my life. We must always actively seek to learn from every experience, even if it’s something we’ve done a million times. If you’ve been in worship ministry for ten years, you can safely assume that you’ve probably structured and led 500 worship services. That’s 500 hours only IN the service. We all know that the actual hour-long service is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to planning and practicing. Even so, after those 1000+ hours, we need to be learning something.
Administrating, delegating, and training
“Always train your own replacement.” That’s just weird. It honestly hits some worship pastors hard, because they are scared. “What if they do this better than I do?” But it is something, that if we are to be discipling and multiplying, that we need to be training. This is probably my weakest area. I hate to delegate. Delegating scares me. I love to do things myself, and turning things over to others is not my strong suit. But, as soon as we stop delegating, we burn ourselves out and we make ourselves irreplaceable. That’s a problem, because a church should never depend on a single person. Obviously, the capital-C “Church” can only depend on God, but make no mistake…the local church can find itself dependent on just a handful of people. When those people are gone, it can be almost impossible to recover. Make sure you are training someone to replace you.
Learning new skills
The worship service really falls under the worship pastor’s domain. The problem here is that the worship service is facilitated by an impressive number of people. Camera operators, sound, lighting, projection, and, in our rented facility, setup. The real term here for a great worship pastor is “translator.” The worship pastor has to be able to facilitate communication between all these teams. The “learning new skills” part comes in because a worship pastor has to be able to at least have a fair understanding of each of these areas to be able to speak the language. There is nothing worse than a worship pastor that can’t communicate, even on a basic level, with a sound tech. “I don’t know, I think maybe one of the levels in the monitor may be off.” “Welp, that narrows it down,” thinks the sound tech. It may have been an important issue that makes the band experience a problem, all because of a small communication breakdown. Being able to understand what makes these areas tick is a huge part of structuring a service well. If you don’t understand how something works, just ask. I promise, there are probably people on your Sunday morning team that are dying to communicate more effectively with you.
This one ties in fairly closely to leading well, but takes it to another level. Shepherding the people in your care goes beyond just leading. Shepherding involves a level of care and involvement that “ordinary” leadership just doesn’t cover. Someone who is leading well will tell someone “no” if they aren’t qualified for a position. Someone who is leading well and shepherding people will say “no,” but then help that person put together an action plan that they need as they move from a “no” to a “yes.” Someone who is shepherding people will always be looking for how a person can move to the next level.