One of the greatest blessings a church can receive is when the person leading music is a worship pastor, not just a worship leader. Worship pastors increase the spiritual sensitivity of the weekend service, expand the church’s pastoral reach, and create a synergy between the music and teaching. While it is important for worship leaders to be competent, talented, and able to execute their portion of a weekend service with little difficulty, there is so much more that worship leaders bring to the table.
Why We Need Worship Pastors, Not Worship Leaders
1. Worship pastors have a shepherd’s heart.
A worship pastor goes beyond “how do I get people to sing this song” to “how can I share Jesus’ love?” Worship pastors are aware of what is happening both locally in their community, and globally, and they pick songs designed to speak to that current moment.
Worship pastors talk with the congregation before and after. They are in small groups. They counsel people. They disciple their band. In other words, worship pastors see themselves as shepherds first, and musicians second.
This means worship pastors are themselves trained and discipled. They have put in the work and time to pursue Jesus deeply in their own lives, and have theologically wrestled with the tough questions. Worship pastors may become famous, but that is never their mentality. They are simply looking to bring the presence of Jesus to people via their life and music.
2. Worship pastors sense God’s movement in the moment.
A worship pastor pays close attention to how God might be moving each weekend. They read the room, notice if people seem tired, sad, energized, angry, or apathetic. They sense what God might be saying, and are willing to veer off plan if needed to lead people toward what God is doing. A win for a worship pastor isn’t necessarily “did we pull those songs off without a hitch” but “did we follow where God was at?” Worship pastors have an amazing ability to be at the front of the stage, but seem invisible. Congregants walk away from services thinking about how powerfully God moved that morning, not how amazing the music performances were.
3. Worship pastors partner with the lead pastor/communicator.
A worship pastor has a close relationship with the regular communicator at their church. Because they are both pastors bringing the good news in different ways, worship pastors see their role as joined with the teaching, the music and sermon telling one message to a community of faith.
Both the worship pastor and communicator evaluate the success of a weekend service collectively, seeing the entire service as something they had a joint investment in. They are, in other words, more than just coworkers; they’re a team.
4. And finally, worship pastors DO care about excellence in their craft.
While music performance is often overrated, a good worship pastor loves how the beauty of music is a vessel God uses to guide people close to Him. A worship pastor isn’t focused on perfection or personal glorification, but they do highly value how organization, planning, attention to detail, and good team leadership come together to create beautiful worship moments.
Worship pastors like this really do exist!
And at Visible Music College we are committed to raising up more of them. At our college, students will find a tight-knit family experience, where our 1:6 teacher/student ratio ensures each student is known, seen, and discipled. We believe in holistically preparing students to be worship pastors, teaching them music theory and technical skills, but also the theological and practical training they need to be great shepherds, not just musicians.