I love reading articles. Specifically, articles about Jesus, the Church, ministry, and leadership. As a worship pastor, I often stumble across articles with titles such as, “5 Things Every Worship Leader Needs to Do,” or “How Every Worship Leader Can Lead Better,” and so on. You know the articles and you’ve probably read several of them. Especially, if you, like me, are a worship pastor by vocation, part time worship leader, or a volunteer worship leader who also leads the ministry. One article that I’ve never seen in my constant article reading escapades is one such as this. Quite possibly because every worship pastor wants very ministry specific and church specific characteristics in their team. However, in my many conversations with other worship pastor friends, I always find it intriguing and enjoyable to hear their heart for their ministry and church, to hear what they wish their team would “get” or understand, and how they have a passion for their team to understand and buy into the overall vision of the church and worship ministry. Also, knowing my own convictions on this subject, I thought it might be an interesting and fresh perspective to not direct another article towards the worship pastor, but to bring to light some characteristics that I believe every worship pastor wants in their worship team, regardless of what church they lead, their style, how big or small the church, et cetera.
It’s no secret that worship pastors want to know how to disciple their teams better, to see their teams be wildly transformed by the love and grace of Jesus, and to see them lead with a humble, yet confident authority that has been given by the Holy Spirit. My question is this, does your team know what you want from them? Have you laid out vision with precise clarity that your team can easily latch onto? This may be a simple sentiment, but it’s something I’ve learned over the course of my time in leading and discipling people…if a person doesn’t know what’s expected of them, how can you expect it from them?
So, this article is written for the every-week volunteer guitarist, the vocalist who gets scheduled every 2 months, the drummer who works 60 hours a week…this article is for you. These characteristics listed are staples that I can guarantee your worship pastor will love you for and it will also make your serving full of joy. These traits will not only make you a standout in your worship ministry, but these will also empower you as a leader in your church and as a follower of Christ in every aspect of your life.
Know it’s not about you!
As worship pastors, we love you! We love that you are on the worship team. We love that you use the gifts God has given you to serve. We love that you willingly give of your time and resources to serve alongside us. We value your opinion and what you bring to the table. Only understand that serving in the worship ministry and serving the Church is not about you! Everything has been, is, and will always be about one thing and one thing only, Jesus! That seems like a cliche thing to say, but it’s a stark reminder that our life is not our own, but it belongs to God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Acts 20:24, Colossians 3:1, Romans 6:4). A great pastor friend of mine once put it best when he said, “Daily Christian living means daily Christian dying.” (Galatians 2:20, Romans 6:6) We want serving to be a joy to you, but even more, we want you to understand that utmost joy and peace is only found in Christ and Christ alone (Romans 15:13, Philippians 4:7).
We want our teams to live and breathe faithfulness in every way! We want to know that we can count on you. We want to know that you’re going to learn the music and be prepared. We want to know that if call time is at 7:00 am on Sunday morning, you’re going to be on the stage, ready to go at 7:00 am. Jesus taught on the sermon of the mount in Matthew 5, “Let your ‘yes,’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no,’ be ‘no,’ anything more than this comes from evil.” Not only is this good practice for serving the Church, but it’s the best way to operate in all of our relationships. Jesus also teaches us in the Parable of the Talents that those who faithful with a little, He will make them faithful over much (Matthew 25:21). If you are eager for more responsibility in your worship ministry, or want more time on the platform, be faithful with a little, and even your worship pastor will notice that he can trust you with more. After all, we all long for the day when we are welcomed into God’s presence and we hear, “Well done, good and FAITHFUL servant. Enter into the joy of your Master!” (Matthew 25:21)
The Heart of a Servant
Leadership is for service, not for status. Being a servant means you value helping with any task big or small, seen or unseen, because it’s for a greater cause than yourself. Having the heart of a servant is much more than just a cool phrase, it’s capturing the heart of Jesus. “The Son of man came not to be served, but to serve, and give His life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) This point always refers back to #1, it’s not about you. Know that Christ has called you to be an ambassador of the Gospel and what you proclaim is not yourself, but Jesus Christ as Lord (2 Corinthians 5:20, 2 Corinthians 4:5, 1 Peter 4:10-11).
Love for the Church
When I say love for the Church, I mean, love for the local body that God has called you to serve. Genuine Christianity is fleshed out amongst fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Invest in the lifeblood of your Church, know the people, love the people, and love them outside the walls of the building you gather in on Sunday mornings (Hebrews 10:24-25, 1 Peter 3:8, 1 John 4:11). Have meaningful relationships with people you worship alongside every week. Eat with each other, let your kids play together, spur one another on in Christ and enjoy each other’s company (Acts 2:46-47). This is the essence of discipleship and loving the Church well.
Love for the Worship Ministry
It is an honor and a privilege that God allows us to lead His church in worship every single week. Whether you like it or not, anytime you are put on a stage, people view you as a leader. This can often cause a little bit of an ego for people when they’ve been given a platform, but remember this, platforms don’t make you, they expose you! As a member of the worship ministry, we want you to be full of humble gratitude for the opportunity that you’ve been given to do something you love while leading and worshipping Jesus. When you love something, you cherish it, when you cherish something, you are devoted to it. Uphold the integrity of the worship ministry and the people in it by living a Godly life and serving with an uncomplicated, humble spirit. (1 Peter 5:6, James 4:6, Matthew 23:12, 1 Peter 4:10-11)
Buy in to the Vision
God has given each church, each pastor, each worship pastor, a specific vision for how the Church should set their specific culture and style. It is imperative that you buy into it! This is imperative for vitality in your local church body and in your worship ministry. If you don’t know the specific vision for the worship ministry you serve in, ask your worship leader! I promise they would love to talk with you about it and that you showed interest and initiative. A good worship leader friend and mentor of mine once said, “Vision not only directs, but it corrects.” Vision gives us clarity in who we are and what we do. Vision is the mental picture of what could be followed by the conviction of it should be. In essence, it should define your existence as a church and worship ministry. This is so important! (Habakkuk 2:2-3)
A love for Discipleship
This is the great commission! Jesus didn’t command to simple make converts, but to make disciples (Matthew 28:16-20). When your worship pastor brings a devotional to the team or wants to share something with the team before a rehearsal or before a service…be engaged and listen! Mostly likely, your worship pastor desperately wants to disciple each and every person on the team, but we can’t do it alone! We need leaders and co-laborers to come alongside us and press each other and our teams on towards righteousness and Godliness. Here are some ways that discipleship can happen naturally within our teams: we are to live in community with each other, build up one another, love each other, multiply ourselves as leaders, guide each other into truth, impart wisdom, and equip the saints for the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:12, 2 Timothy 2:2, Acts 2:42, John 13:34-35). If your church has small groups or Bible studies of any kind, be involved in those groups, or even better, lead one. Seek out worship team members to go through devotional books together. Have a love for the Scriptures and make personal devotion time with God a non-negotiable. “Our private worship should lead us into public worship, and our public worship should lead our congregation into private worship.” “The more intimately we know God, the more we intimately we will worship Him.” Discipleship is about multiplying ourselves as leaders and making authentic followers of Jesus and co-laborers for the sake of the Gospel.
Constantly throughout the New Testament we are encouraged to be in unity and the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Unity that makes it possible (Ephesians 4:3, Romans 15:5-6)! Unity is the key that holds all of these things together (Colossians 3:4). Having the same mind, having the same love, and being in full accord with one another makes nothing impossible (Philippians 2:2). We have a Biblical mandate to not only get along with each other, but to be in unity with one another, to love one another, to be humble in mind and spirit, to live in peace with each other (1 Peter 3:8, 1 Corinthians 1:10, 2 Corinthians 13:11). These things bring honor and glory to God! When we serve faithfully, serve with humility, love our church, love our ministry, buy into the vision, and love discipleship, there is no way we can’t operate in unity. “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:1-8.
Recognize that our creativity is a gift from the Creator, for His glory alone! We should prepare with excellence because we value diligence of craft our area of service and we use it for God’s glory (Colossians 3:23). Worship pastor’s love when you bring excellence into the musicianship and craft in what we do! We also love when you bring creative ideas to the table. Whether it’s an idea for a transition in the worship set, a new song you’ve written, an idea for a part in a song, we are called to be creative beings, especially within the worship ministry (Exodus 35:35)! When you bring creative ideas, chances are, we will lean on you for creative inspiration and input down the road. Lastly, don’t be upset if your creative idea doesn’t get used. Some ideas work and some don’t. Refuse to be offended by feedback, but instead, choose to grow from it.
Finally, I’ll say something that your worship pastor will most likely not say in meetings or while they lead your team, worship pastors long for your love and support! Ministry can be difficult, demanding, and downright draining at times. Paul Tripp says, “In many churches, no one gets less of the ministry of the body of Christ than the pastor.” Encourage and love them! In the same way that you love to be encouraged, your worship pastor loves being encouraged as well. Let them know when you loved the devotional they brought to the team, let them know you appreciate the gift card they bought you, let them know they lead the congregation well, etc. Scripture tells us to “…outdo one another with showing honor.” (Romans 12:10) While, pastors, teachers, and elders, are to be shown double honor (1 Timothy 5:17). If your worship pastor is following Jesus, leading you in truth, shepherding your soul, and loving your team to the best of their ability…obey and submit to them as a leader, respect them, and let them lead with with joy (Hebrews 13:17, 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13, Hebrews 13:7).
We know that leaders and pastors are to be held above reproach in their way of leadership and in their life (1 Timothy 3:2), but it is such a joy when our teams are in unity with one another and things just click. I hope you found this article encouraging and perhaps a little eye opening or convicting. With all of the articles out there to hold pastors and leaders accountable and give tips, we cannot dismiss the fact that the people who serve in our ministries week after week far outnumber us. Worship team member, love God, love His people, and lead with integrity alongside your worship pastor. Worship pastors, be bold and don’t be afraid to ask or expect much of your team. People actually really enjoy being challenged and when you set a solid standard of excellence, it attracts people and the results you achieve will be high quality. If a goal or expectation is set too low or not set at all, you will only achieve the same kind of low results. However, learn to navigate when it’s permissible to push individuals on your team and when you should hold back. May the God of peace guide and direct your every step as you continue worshipping together, serving together, loving together, and bringing God all the honor and glory for every bit of it.