As the preaching husband to a worship/music leader, the relationship between a pastor and a worship leader (different churches have different names) is a huge part of my daily life. Being married to a worship leader has convinced me that pastors have a vital role as worship leaders as well. Just because we aren’t usually playing a piano or singing with a guitar does not mean pastors are not worship leaders. The following are five ways preaching pastors can be better worship leaders:

#1 Communicate your sermon text and main points to your worship leader before he/she practices with the music team. It is so hard for music leaders to fly blind, which is what they are doing when they don’t even know the sermon text. Sure, God can use any worship song that glorifies Him, but congregational songs are meant to ready souls for the proclamation of the Word. How can they do that if they were picked with no idea what that message is?

#2 Be a good worshipper before you preach. I am not talking about being animated or showboaty. People express worship in different ways, but they still express it. My pastor is really good about this. He is such an avid worshipper and it is good for our congregation to see it. It tells them he’s not just there because he likes to talk. Worship music is not the opening piece to a main act, it is the warm up. My wife has done a great job in making me a better worshipper. Hear her interview on The Worship Podcast in Nashville, How a Muslim Became a Worship Leader.  

#3 Insert scripture reading or prayer based on the theme of the text in between songs. This might mean your music leader speaks during the music set to explain songs and prepare hearts. Some preachers are intimidated by this. They need not be. However, some worship leaders are just not good at speaking between songs. Do it for them- with proper communication beforehand. In my ministry case, my wife is the worship leader for the ministry. She is very good at telling me before the set what songs need to be introduced by prayer, scripture, or a word. That is so helpful to me! I am not a music leader and she is not a preacher, but we are both worship leaders!

#4 Write down key moments/lyrics in the songs during the worship set that tie into your sermon and quote them as you preach. You might be one who remembers everything you sing, but I am not. It helps me to add last minute illustrations to my sermon notes, so I don’t forget to pull from the extemporaneous things that happen in a worship service prior to my speaking. Doing this tells your music leader that the songs they pick matter to you. It also transfers the experience the congregation had with a song onto the sermon the congregation gets from a text. I am not good at doing this yet, but I am getting there!

#5 Guard your relationship with your worship/music leader. Your worship leader has a very significant position in the worship service. A pastor may have many other principal leaders under him, but he usually shares the stage with one. No matter what, at some point feelings will be hurt and expectations won’t be met. Only a Godly relationship that has a balance of brotherly warmth and high accountability can face that level of strain. If the pastor has a bad relationship with the music leader, it’s not a question of if, but when it will compromise the worship experience of the congregation and, ultimately, the glory of God.

 

One of my seminary professors, Tony Merida, writes in his book Christ-Centered Exposition, “Lead/senior/preaching pastors need to think more about worshipping, and worship leaders need to think more about pastoring (pg 264).” This is a really good exhortation. Your church leaders may do a really good job at communicating and exemplifying this. There is also a chance they do not. Pastors and their congregation need to have a healthy expectation of their pastor as worship leader. If not, they could create unnecessary division or miss out on another way to prepare hearts for the proclamation of the word.