Are you a song leader or worship pastor?

I grew up in a church that had a ton of singers, musicians and the most amazing choir directors. Each week we waited in anticipation of what the next Sunday would bring. “What song would they sing?” “Who and how would they lead the songs?” The most important question – “Who was going to run around the church, (which was always fun watching)?!” There came a point in time where I left the seat of spectator, and moved into the role of leader on the platform. It seemed seamless, like I had been doing it my whole life, only at the age of 13. In hindsight, I did not realize that I was being mentored and developed into who God had called me to be. The great influencers that were around me did it so well!

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 4:15 that we have many teachers but not many fathers. I look around today and wonder, would many of those who serve on our worship teams feel the same way? Do we have many song leaders but not many worship pastors? Are we too focused on the excellence of song rather than the purity of hearts?

Here are some differences I’ve noticed between Song Leaders and Worship Pastors:

  • 1.Song Leaders care about the platform; Worship Pastors care about the people on the platform.
  • 2.Song Leaders are concern with the next new song; Worship Pastors are concerned with the areas of transformation.
  • 3.Song Leaders look for the next greatest singer; Worship Pastors disciple.
  • 4.Song Leaders enjoy their songs be heard; Worship Pastors enjoy the song of the Church being heard.
  • 5.Song Leaders look for opportunities to lead; Worship Pastors look for opportunities to develop and grown people on their teams.

While there are differences between the two, this is not an either or, this is a both and. We as leaders at our churches have been called to exist in both roles. We need to lead songs and people well. Here are three practices I have found to be effective:

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

It’s ok to take a few minutes to text, email or call people on your team to check up on them. We all love to know that people care for us. When people know that you are for them personally, it’s easy for them to follow the vision.

We should be motivated by the personal transformation of those we serve.

Our worship teams should be filled with life giving experiences. We have the opportunity to challenge, encourage and walk along side of those we serve as the reach their full potential. Sometimes it’s simply listening and saying let’s pray over this together.

We don’t have to have all the answers.

All ways point them back to the Source of all things. Be vulnerable and open about failures and success. Let them see that you are growing and the only true source of strength comes from God.

I am grateful for those who took time to speak in to my life and invite me on the journey. It wasn’t always easy because I can be stubborn, however they cared more about who I was becoming than my talent. They understood what it meant to pastor and care for my soul. Now I/we have the opportunity as we lead our teams each week to help them become who they were created to be. Let’s move beyond just leading a song to pastoring people.

About The Author

Joel Buckner
Worship Leader

Joel Buckner is a passionate singer, catalyst for change and desires to help people become the best version of themselves.

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