If I asked 100 lead pastors what is the staff or volunteer position that is most difficult to work with, how many do you think would say the worship leader? My guess would be over 50%, with the youth pastor coming in a close second.
It just seems like there’s often this tension that exists between lead pastors and worship leaders. We’ve experienced it in our church, and you’ve probably experienced it in yours. I remember years ago, we wanted to start a Saturday night service at our church because we were out of space on Sunday mornings. Everyone was on board with the move except the worship team. Many of the leaders refused to participate on Saturday nights. I’m sure you have similar stories in your church.
I’m not exactly sure why this tension exists, but I think there are two factors at play. One, I think in most cases the personalities of worship leaders are vastly different than the personalities of lead pastors. They’re just wired completely different. And two, I think being on stage week after week in front of an audience can create an unhealthy possessiveness if we’re not careful.
So, what’s the solution?
I’m glad you asked. The solution to resolve the tension in any relationship is always the same. You just need to start a conversation.
Here are four conversations you probably need to have with your worship leader.
What you do sets the tone for the rest of the service.
In most churches, the music and singing happen before anything else. It sets the tone. If we don’t get started on time, if we’re missing notes, if we forget the words, then we’re giving people a bad first impression. On the flip side, when we do start on time, when the music and singing are on key, then we’re giving people a good first impression. We invest a lot of resources to make sure we have great sound, lights, and video because we realize the importance of this moment. Let’s give everyone our best.
Because you’re on stage, you’re held to a higher standard.
Fair or unfair this is a reality, especially if you’re leading in a small town. People are always watching you. They see how you act at your kid’s ball games. They see what you post on social media. They see how you act outside of church. What they see in your public life affects how they react to you leading them in worship.
Most church people aren’t listening to worship music outside of Sunday.
It’s shocking I know, but the truth is I don’t listen to much worship music outside of Sunday mornings. I’m listening to whatever’s popular or whatever I grew up listening to. That’s what I enjoy. So, if you want me to sing along in worship, then you’re going to have to play the song enough for me to learn it. This means we may need to repeat songs much more than you’d like. At the end of the day, getting our church to engage in worship is more important than trying to keep up with the latest worship songs around the country.
The most important thing you can do is produce other worship leaders.
This is true in every ministry area; we have to be producing more leaders. What makes this difficult in worship is it means we have to be willing to share the stage. If you’re not willing to hand someone else the mic, the guitar, the drum sticks, then you’re holding the ministry back. If you want your team to grow, often it means stepping back and pushing someone else into the spotlight.