Worship Pastor or Worship Leader?

While speaking on the topic of worship once, I was asked the question by a panel – “what is the difference in a worship leader and a worship pastor”. It is a good question – and one that some churches don’t understand or fail to see the benefit of the difference. For that reason, I wanted to take a couple of days and look at the answer – and outline what I feel the makeup of a worship pastor should be.

What Is A Worship Leader?
We certainly can’t differentiate one term without defining the other – so we first need to look at what a “Worship Leader” is. For the most part, “Worship Leaders” are those who lead in worship. In a vague sense – that would include those lead worshipers such as choir members, team members, etc… but we are specifically dealing with those tasked with leading a congregation in a worship setting.

One person – usually with guitar or piano – or with voice alone, who “leads” the congregation in song. This person may be a member of the congregation or may be visiting from another. Most times, the leader is tasked with hand-picking the songs for the service he/she will be leading but may or may not be charged with assembling the band or arranging the service.

The Community Difference

So what separates a worship leader from a worship pastor? One main difference – the responsibility of the community he serves. I have been a part of some spectacular services by some brilliant leaders. When the service was over – and life went on – and the leader (be it a traveling leader or a Christian music artist who leads in worship) leaves the church or gets back on the tour bus after a Spirit-filled night… the community remains. There is no deep emotional bond nor responsibility for that bond in a worship leader environment.

The main difference in a worship leader and a worship pastor is the level of pastoring done within the community. A worship pastor is involved with encouraging those within his community – raising up leaders, investing in others, determining the needs, evaluating the strengths, and acknowledging the weaknesses. He knows his community like his own family. He is a pastor. He is a shepherd. He brings more than a song – and his job responsibilities weigh moreso Monday through Saturday than they do on and given Sunday.

This – is a worship pastor – and in upcoming articles we will focus on the skills and skill-set that I feel a strong worship pastor should have.

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