Dan and I toured together in the '70's across North America. We held many concerts, led in worship and helped to pave the way together in many churches for more culturally current expressions while maintaining a historical and scriptural foundation.
Dan has since gone on to record several albums, had worship songs recorded with major publishers, served as a Senior Pastor, Worship Leader, Itinerant Musician and Teacher, Author and Entrepreneur. This gives him a unique perspective as he has lived inside the skin of several roles.
You can learn more about Dan at http://www.danthiessen.com/.
Worship – Pastor, Worship Leader and Worship Team
Part One – The Pastor
To understand the relationship dynamics between the pastor, worship leader and worship team we need to understand the premise for worship in our congregational settings. I will first lay the premise from scripture as I see it and then deal with the roles of the pastor, worship leader and worship team. Today we will be dealing with the pastor’s role. But first, the premise:
In II Kings chapter three we see the story of three kings (Israel, Judah and Edom) going to battle against a common enemy from Moab. At first they try in their own strength and fail. The king of Judah (Jehoshaphat) then remembers a prophet (Elisha) who can speak from God into situations. The kings summon the prophet but before the prophet speaks he asks a musician to play and as the musician plays, the Spirit of God descends and Elisha gives a word of direction for the upcoming battle.
It is my understanding from this scripture that a worship team is commissioned to intensify the presence of God so that the prophet (pastor) can speak with authority. I remember leading worship for a pastor once who didn’t quite understand all of this but when he preached after I had led worship he came to me and said he felt an authority to preach he had not felt before.
So in this context what is the relationship between the pastor (prophet) and the musician (worship leader)?
1. The pastor must recognize the gifting of the worship leader.
Elisha didn’t just call any old musician. He called this particular musician because he knew that when this musician played he, (Elisha), would hear God’s voice that much clearer and subsequently be able to speak the word with more authority.
2. The pastor must respect the gifting of the worship leader.
Trust is huge here. And “trust” me, the congregation will pick up any mistrust in a heartbeat. I was leading worship once, leading the last song of the set as God’s presence was just settling on the congregation, when in the middle of the “settling” the pastor got up and did the announcements disturbing the flow and distracting the worshippers. Fortunately I had enough relationship with this pastor to point this out and ask him next time to watch me and to not come up until I had signaled. That takes trust.
3. The pastor must be responsible for the gifting of the worship leader.
When I say “responsible” I mean the pastor is to pastor his worship leader. In a trust relationship (see point two) there is also accountability. If the relationship is a good relationship there is mutual accountability. What do I mean by accountability? The worship pastor needs to be held accountable to a biblically appropriate standard by the pastor. Part of what that means is that lifestyle must be consistent with leadership. Needless to say (though, sad to say, it is needed to say) a worship leader cannot be leading a double life. The pastor must stay connected to the worship leader, be in relationship with the worship leader, and share his heart with the worship leader so that they can with one voice glorify God during worship service.
4. The pastor must reverence (honor) the gifting of the worship leader.
To reverence/honor the gifting of a worship leader is not to hold it up and admire it. To reverence/honor the gifting of a worship leader is to submit to it. At its very base you, as pastor, must worship in an expression that is consistent with your expectation. Almost as many people watch the pastor as watch the worship leader. If you are not worshipping you are communicating wrong messages to your congregation the simplest of which is, I don’t need to worship either.
In subsequent blogs I will be discussing the roles/relationships of the worship leader and the worship team. Keep reading and keep leading into the presence of Jesus.
Next is the role of the worship leader.