Three Roles of a Worship Pastor
Recently, I was given the privilege of teaching a class of young worship leaders. I was asked to talk with them about something I wish that I had learned before I graduated. I am sure over the course of my education that the topic of worship pastor was covered, but I don’t know if I ever truly understood the weight until much later. What I wish I had understood was that the role of a worship pastor is threefold: pastor, theologian, and musician. And I believe that it is important to understand that musician should always come last.
Over and above any other role, a worship leader should be a pastor, serving those in our churches and those with whom we lead. We are called to get dirty and live among our sheep. Three times Jesus implores Peter to care for His sheep. We as worship pastors can all too easily allow the stage to become a shield or barrier, but we must get off the stage, enter into the lives of our people, and get dirty. A friend of mine once told me that a pastor should “smell like their sheep”; that can only happen if we are in among them, shepherding.
We must understand also that in the music, the liturgy, and our words, we are teaching. More often, people walk out singing the songs of that morning rather than quoting the pastor and his sermon. Gordon Fee has said, “Show me a church’s songs, and I’ll show you their theology.” Many songs that we choose to sing in our churches today are poorly written or use Scripture incorrectly. What are the implications of the words we are singing or praying? James writes that those who teach will be held to a higher standard. What are we teaching in our worship services?
As musicians, we should always be striving for excellence. We may not always be able to do the newest, hottest song, but we can encourage everyone to use their talents to the fullest. While it is always important to work for the excellence that we all want, if we as pastors who lead worship have spent our entire week only preparing for the next worship service, then I believe we have failed. We should remember to lead others in the worship of the triune God is a privilege and a grace. Understanding this should lead us to a humbling realization of the beautiful weight that our position bears.
Joshua Griswold is assistant director of admissions at Dallas Christian College.