One of my life’s greatest privileges has been serving as a worship pastor, and with this responsibility my eyes have been opened to so many different facets of what the job really requires, as opposed to what I imagined it required.
I believe in my heart of hearts that the worship pastor of a team does not have to be the most talented, the most eloquent, the most gifted writer—although to be skillful at your craft is a must. But this role is truly all about care.
The worship pastor must care that people have an understanding of why we worship and not just how we worship; the worship pastor must carry the heart of the church and its leadership tenderly with great respect and unyielding support. The worship pastor must love the team and their families more for who they are and their journey in Christ than for what they do for the church.
Yes, the worship pastor is shepherd first, musician second—a true worshiper, one who leads with skill, wisdom, and godly devotion.
I have written my Top Ten teaching thoughts for worship pastors to share with their teams—to give you some absolutes to pass on to those entrusted to your care.
1. The Worship of God Is Holy
God is not common; hence worship is not a gig, not a right to prove our abilities, not an opportunity to sing our favorite songs. We worship because he is a holy God, and we the created—made for his pleasure—worship and serve the Creator because he alone is worthy.
2. Regarding Excellence
We bring our finest, because we care that our sacrifice is truthful and brought with integrity of heart. The first fight in the Bible was about a worship offering (Gen 4), and to this day, people bicker and disagree about what is genuine worship. No matter how we present our worship, only God knows the true intent of our pursuit of him. And it is in the authentic pursuit of him that we find excellence in worship.
3. Authentic Lives of Worship
We train in so many things consistently, but nothing can replace each individual’s commitment to an authentic life as a worshiper. So that when your inner life is revealed, what is seen and what is unseen by humans is one and the same.
Bill Hybels wrote a great book called Who You Are When No One’s looking. Work at making sure that you are one person: the person we publicly know, and the person God privately knows.
Gladness is not just an emotion; gladness is a byproduct of joy, which is substance, a fruit of the spirit. You can literally live on it. Joy puts others at rest.
“He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart” (Eccl 5:20).
5. Worship Is Not Just a Lifestyle.
Worship is our life’s response to the grandeur and magnificence of our God. Worship as a lifestyle sounds like we would treat the Cross of Christ casually. But our ability to enter his courts and live in his presence actually cost God his all—for us. Never treat his worship as a lifestyle option.
6. Build a Culture That Embraces the New
We see that the Levites were trained and skilled in making music before the Lord (1 Chr 25:7). Never compare or be skillful for the sake of it, yet always encourage people to be developing their gifts, to try new things, new ideas. Be vigilant to train and grow and strive for freshness in all that you have been given, for the glory of his name. As the Scripture says:
■You will be called by a new name (Isa 62:2).
■I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them (Ezek 11:19)
New songs, new day, new start, new hope, new mercy, new possibilities, new ideas, new ways, new people, God says “new heaven and a new earth,” “ new covenant,” “new self,” “new heart,” “new command,” “new creation”… new, new, new!
7. God’s Presence Is Great Power
Our role is to declare and announce that God is here. If we just play and lead to please the ears of man and satisfy our own desires to play/sing, and march into services without a holy awareness of his presence and magnificence then we rob people of their spiritual inheritance. Lead people to the courts of our God.
8. We enter “his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise” (Ps 100:4)
This sequence is God’s idea, not just the delight of all sanguines worldwide. Be confident to lead people in the high praise of our God. Announce that our God reigns.
9. Speak a Kingdom Culture
If your team knows how to play music but the culture is one of negativity, defeat, resistance, offence, pride, lack of self esteem, jealousy, even of unbelief, then your team will never grow together into a culture that is based on kingdom principles. Kingdom music is crafted in the heart of a human being who gets a glimpse—a taste —or hears the sound of the kingdom of God.
10. People of Prayer
It is a very presumptuous person who thinks you can live an effective Christian life without prayer. Prayer is our lifeline; prayer is our first language; prayer is our direct access. This is made clear in the Psalms—a magnificent book of prayers that teaches us so much about our language before our God. Enter with thanksgiving, bring him everything, love him, adore him, ask of him; this is the language of prayer. As you develop your life of prayer, you are developing your life of faith—and your life of worship.