Worship Leader vs. Worship Pastor

Got into an interesting discussion this past week with a buddy about worship leaders and worship pastors. After we made the requisite metro jokes – we got serious for a moment. Here were some of thoughts….

A worship leader (wait for it….) leads music and song whereas a worship pastor leads people into experiences that collide them with God.

A leader plans and practices transitions from song to song whereas a pastor looks for holy interruptions that could send us deeper.

A leader will make sure his part of the service is done well while a pastor focuses on the WHOLE worship experience.

A leader will be great with the music, a pastor will experiment with different disciplines (silence, prayer, readings, communion, video, etc).

A leader will evaluate notes and tuning, a pastor will evaluate the impact and response.

A leader will understand response as someone walking down the aisle, a pastor will see response as life change once the service is over.

A leader wants to run a smooth practice, a pastor wants to develop other worshippers.

What would you add?


2 thoughts on “Worship Leader vs. Worship Pastor

  1. Grant,

    All good things here. Our church recently went through a worship pastor search and listed out many of the things you have here as qualifications we’d be looking for in the process.

    I think as a “band member” it is important that we understand that we are responsible for those things too.

    I would add that a worship pastor lives in community with the church. I’ve been around worship pastors(?) who missed that all-important part. Can’t just play for 2 services on Sunday and not answer phone calls and emails and slack off on showing up to life group the rest of the week.


  2. I agree with all these, Grant. It’s not so much the titles, but rather the title change has allowed many churches to make a clean break from an older set of expectations.

    In my experience the Worship Pastor is still judged by the old standards without much regard to the additional “pastoral” standards you list here.

    Much effort can be given to leading people to “collide” with God’s presence, but after the service people still compliment the song they liked. By their expression it was all about the song.

    It seems there is still a disconnect between the worship pastor, who week in and week out approaches worship as you’ve suggested, and the congregation who only use the evaluation criteria you’ve reserved for the worship leader.


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