What Worship Leaders Wished Their Pastor Knew

shutterstock_284428808_FotorLast Monday I wrote a post on What Pastors Wished Their Worship Leaders Knew. Today I want to suggest some things that worship leaders wished their pastor knew, or were at least aware of.

A few introductory thoughts. If you’re a congregational worship leader (music minister, song leader, music guy, etc.) you should do whatever you can to express support, encouragement, and gratefulness for your pastor. Encouragement is oxygen to the soul, and “sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness” (Prov. 16:21).

Also, posts like these won’t apply to every church situation. This is meant to be a conversation starter, not everything that can be said. And if you’re the one who leads the music in your church, you might not be in the place some of these points assume you are.

Finally, I’ve had the joy of seeing many, if not all, of these points modeled for years by C.J. Mahaney, my current senior pastor and dear friend.

With those thoughts, here are a few things pastors might miss or forget in working with their musicians.

1. Communication in advance makes for a more unified, edifying meeting. (Prov. 15:22; 21:5)
It helps if I know before the meeting what you want me to do, rather than afterwards.
The earlier I know what you’re preaching on the better prepared I can be to serve you.
The church will benefit if we’ve coordinated what we’re going to do beforehand.

2. Consistent and specific encouragement and evaluation will make me a better leader. (Heb. 3:13; Prov. 9:9)
I will thrive and grow if I know what things I’m doing that are serving you and the church.
“Great job!” is better than saying nothing, but not as good as telling me what was helpful and how God is working through me.
If I’m going to grow I have to know what I’m doing wrong, could do better, or should stop doing.
Saying nothing for long periods of time tempts me to think what I do is unimportant, wrong, or unnecessary.

3. God intended singing to be a means of teaching and admonishing. (Col. 3:16)
What I do is more than warm up people for the sermon, fill time, or get people emotionally excited.
You will serve me, yourself, the church, and most importantly the Lord, if you care as much about the words we sing as the words your preach.
Your favorite song might not be the best song for the church to sing.

4. Your example and engagement when we sing says volumes not only about your support of me, but about your heart to praise God with the church.
It doesn’t look good to anyone when you regularly use the singing time to review your sermon notes, check your email, or look distracted.
Humanly speaking, you are the lead worshiper of the congregation. People rarely rise above the example of the pastor.

5. When I know I have your trust I’ll lead more effectively.
We’re partners, not competitors.
I want your leadership and input, but micromanaging what I do tends to negatively affect my desire to take initiative.
I will lead better if you give me opportunities to earn your trust. If there are reasons you can’t trust me, please tell me.

6. You don’t have to musically trained to help me do what I do better.
The fact that I know music doesn’t mean I know how to pastor a congregation, how to communicate effectively, or how to make theological connections.
If something doesn’t feel right to you, I need and want to know.
I might have to work hard to understand what you’re saying, but if you never say it I won’t know.

7. It would benefit both our relationship and the church if we occasionally did things together; i.e., went to worship conferences, took retreats, read books/articles, or prayed. (Eccles. 4:9-10)
I don’t want to undermine you by trying to lead in areas you aren’t fully convinced of, don’t understand, or haven’t thought about.
My ministry will be more effective if I’ve had extended time to talk through it with you.
I need and want your perspective on topics or areas that are popular in worship conversations of the church.

8. When you encourage and pay attention to the band members you build their trust.
Musicians, just like everyone else, thrive in an atmosphere of encouragement.
Your words of thanks will carry more weight than you know and make people all the more eager to serve in the church.
If musicians know you’re aware of the time we invest to prepare, we’ll respond more readily when you have to make changes.

9. I’d rather know you as a pastor and friend than a manager or supervisor.
An occasional meal, email, or question about my life goes a long way toward building trust.
You can think of me as an employee if you’d like, but Jesus is building a church, not a business.
If you give me significant responsibility in leading the meeting each Sunday, it’s to your advantage to know me well.
Relational unity brings greater glory to God than a well-produced and executed service by leaders who are bitter towards one another or hardly know each other.

10. If I’m a volunteer, I may not have time to do everything you want me to do.
I’m not a full time staff member so you probably need to lower your expectations.
I want to serve you and the church, so I may need help keeping my family a priority.

11. Including good sound, projection, and lighting in the budget communicates your support and serves the church.
Things wear out and break, technology improves, and we can get more for less than ever before.
Some issues can only be improved by spending money.
Challenge me if you think my goals are unrealistic, but let’s at least have the conversation.

As I mentioned earlier, I hope this post can serve as a jumping off point for pastors and their music leaders to dig deeper into how they can serve together more effectively in ways that serve the church and bring glory to God.

Feel free to leave a comment on other areas you think pastors can often miss in serving those who lead the music in their church.

And you can read the final post in this series here: What God Wants Pastors and Worship Leaders to Know.

(Photo courtesy of shutterstock.com)


13 Responses to What Worship Leaders Wished Their Pastor Knew

  1. Jasmine “BushMaid” Ruigrok October 6, 2015 at 6:05 PM #

    Can so relate to these, especially 3, 5, and 10. Also, you nailed the encouragement point. It’s incredible how weary and parched your spirit can become when you give so much of yourself without receiving a single word of encouragement to ensure you that you’re doing okay.

    I would love to have a close relationship with my pastor, and I have made many efforts to cultivate one, but it can be hard to get close to task driven people who already have what they want in mind. It can be crushing to creativity and inovation. A point I would add to this list would be, “don’t be afraid to let me fail”. God is a God of risks, and He loves it when we take the right ones in faith, trusting Him to come through. I think some pastors can get so caught up in the ideal they have in mind that they can be quick to dismiss any new ideas (or old, if they include old songs). Though this does tie in closely to trust, I think that trust can be built a lot faster if a pastor shows they are not afraid of failure, even if its only failure in the eyes of church leadership and not God. I am human. I will make mistakes. But I also desperately want to do what God has called me to for His people, and when He lays something particular on my heart, I hate to feel like I’m missing God, or that my ideas are worthless when they are dismissed for not fitting the church mold. Allowing someone the freedom to explore within reasonable boundaries causes creativity to flourish, and in that freedom there is way more room for the Spirit of God to flow and do whatever He wants instead of being confined to one person’s creative standard.

  2. Cathy October 7, 2015 at 4:28 PM #

    I have thoroughly enjoyed both of your posts in this “series.” I think many of the points are applicable to various leader/volunteer relationships within the church. As the wife of a life-long production/technical team volunteer/staff member, I would love to see your next post be: “What Tech Team Members Wish Their Worship Leaders and Pastors Knew.” :)

    • Bob Kauflin October 7, 2015 at 11:08 PM #

      Cathy, that is a great idea! Thanks!

      • Jeremy October 8, 2015 at 9:51 AM #

        To be followed closely please by “What Worship Leaders Wished Their Tech Team Knew!” ;)

        • Bob Kauflin October 8, 2015 at 11:25 AM #

          Already suggested and hopefully will get to it! Thanks, Jeremy.

  3. Steve Inman October 13, 2015 at 6:22 AM #

    And may I add to the list, “If you believe and periodically mention to the congregation that the reasons the church gathers together on Sunday morning do not include corporate worship (citing 1 Cor 14:26 to claim the church ONLY meets for the purpose of edification — using a verse that itself makes reference to at least one likely element of corporate worship), then don’t be shocked when your worship leader realizes that 1) he can’t really lead corporate worship without undermining your position, 2) his ministry really isn’t needed according to your vision, and 3) he leaves to attend another church where the pastor does want corporate worship to be part of the church’s charter for Sunday morning.” Regards.

    • Denise January 4, 2016 at 2:08 PM #

      It sounds like you speak from a difficult experience. A trial. Ouch. I’m sorry for your hurt.

  4. siahpetermann October 19, 2015 at 7:21 PM #

    Good stuff as always! I’d be curious to see what you write about “What Congregations Wish Their Worship Leaders Knew”. Maybe talk to some people from the church and get their perspective on the execution and time management of the music aspect of the meeting.


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