The Truth About Being A Worship Pastor by David Santistevan

The line between rockstar and worship leader seems to be getting closer and closer in our culture.

We consumers travel from concert to concert, album to album in search of the latest greatest talent.
Because of this, we can almost equate worship ministry as a talent show. Whoever has the greatest, most crowd-pleasing talent leads the best worship.
Today, we’re going to strip it all away and look at worship ministry at its foundation. What if worship ministry was more of a local, pastoral calling than it was a platform for your gifting?

My church has a strong calling to plant other churches. When we plant a church, we define a pastor who is called to serve a certain community. They build a launch team, develop relationships, and serve a city. They are called, planted, rooted, grounded in a city.
What if worship leaders saw themselves in this way? That they were called to a certain place? That they were more than just musicians who make the service more interesting. But that they were a pastor, called to pastor people?
I have a feeling that we need more pastoral musicians than we need rockstar musicians. We need more worship pastors than simply worship leaders. Worship leaders lead music. Worship pastors lead people. We need leaders ready to disciple.

3 Worship Leadership Essentials

So let’s dive into these worship ministry essentials.

1. They Lead People – Great worship pastors don’t just lead music or songs or services. They lead people. That changes how they approach a worship service. It’s not a matter of rocking out to a few songs or playing excellent transitions.
It’s about knowing who they serve. It’s about communicating well with the room. It’s about engagement and trust.
2. They Love People – Loving people may not come naturally to you. But the best worship pastors ask God for His heart for their people. They pray, “Give me a passion for your people in this city. Let me feel the burden that you have for them, O God.” As a good friend of mine said recently, it’s about “seeing the story” in people. This love then influences the way they lead worship.
Worship leading isn’t an “opportunity” for the worship leader, it’s a way to serve God’s people in their pursuit of God. When you know the pain and joy your people are acquainted with, you better know how to plan your worship services.
3. They Build People – It’s not about building a name. It’s about building influence. Great worship pastors are invested in building up the people around them. They seek to grow musicians. They seek to raise up other worship leaders. They give people opportunity. They have a “system” of discipleship. They’re not simply focused on their own talent development.

I love how Derek Webb put it in my most recent podcast:

“Great Worship Leaders should be so wrapped up and intimately acquainted with the sorrow, the joy, the struggle, and the longer narrative arcs of their local community that they know exactly how to curate the songs that are going to be sung by those people.”

Here’s my challenge: begin to focus less on your music, creativity, and innovation for now. Focus more on people – leading, loving, and building them. You may discover a pastoral passion you never knew you had.

Question: What would you say is the defining mark of a worship pastor? 

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