Pastors and Worship Leaders: Working Together

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By John Martin

One of the most important relationships within the church world is the relationship between the lead pastor and the worship pastor. Let’s face facts, while many staff relationships can fall below the radar, the lead pastor and the worship pastor are front and center every week. No way to hide any awkwardness or animosity that may be brewing. That is why maintaining a close, solid relationship with your pastor is an integral part if you want to be an effective worship leader. Here are a few steps to establishing and maintaining an excellent relationship with your pastor.

Be an excellent listener.

In the hit Broadway musical, Hamilton, the main character is offered this advice; “Talk less, smile more.” In other words, listen. Of all the skills that you will develop as a worship leader, developing the skill of listening should be at the top of the list. Listening is how we learn. First, listen to God! Spend time with Him and in His Word and allow Him to speak to you. But secondly, listen to your pastor.

Let’s face it, pastors love to talk (I am a pastor so I can say that!). If you give your pastor an opportunity, he will share with you his vision and expectations. He will share with you his passion for the church that God has called him to lead. Through listening you can discover what your pastor wants and expects from you as a worship leader. But being an excellent listener is much more involved than simply hearing what the pastor has to say; it is about assessing and understanding the “why” behind the “how” If you understand why your pastor wants something done in a particular manner, you will better understand how to make it happen. So, engage your pastor. Spend some time with him and get to know him better. Share your heart and listen while he shares his heart. Strive to be more than fellow staff members, be friends and co-laborers in Christ.

Before moving on, please allow me to say that if you and your pastor are not the same gender, please make certain to honor and safeguard the relationship by including both of your spouses or other staff members in the mix. Be careful and remember Paul’s warning in Ephesians 4:27 to not give the Devil an opportunity!

Work together.

Remember that you and your pastor are on the same team. Yes, each of you have your own individual responsibilities and areas of focus, but you are working for the same goal. Too many times we have an attitude that “The pastor handles the preaching and I handle the music!” If you view your services as being two distinct things; music and preaching, then you are missing the boat. The service is not two things with two goals, it is one service with one goal and that is worship! It doesn’t matter if we are worshiping in the Word (the preaching part) or through song (the music component) the pastor and the worship leader should be working together to lead the congregation in worship.

Plan the services together so they flow and transition smoothly. Ask your pastor to share with you his goal and the purpose behind the message he is preaching so that you can align your song selections accordingly. Then after the fact, meet again to evaluate together how things went. In my experience, I have found it best if the worship leader and I have a planning and evaluation checklist for the key components of the service. The thing to keep in mind is that you are on the same team with your pastor and the two of you should be working together!

Respond quickly.

One of the leadership behaviors that I teach and live by is to be nimble, fast, and responsive. This is not referring to my awesome ninja skills, but rather to my approach in responding quickly to questions and requests.

If your pastor comes to you with a question or a concern, then be quick to assess the situation and develop an efficient solution in a quick manner. If it is an issue that will require some time, then communicate that to your pastor and assure him that you will get back to him with an answer as soon as possible. Promptly return phone calls and emails. Make certain the pastor knows that you are there for him and that you will always respond to their needs and requests in a quick and efficient manner. Whatever the issue, never allow your pastor to get the impression that you are dragging your feet or trying to avoid him. Even if the answer to his question is not the answer he will want to hear, get him the answer quickly.

There are many steps that go into building a long-lasting relationship with your pastor and I am sure that you have many tips that I failed to cover. But the important thing is that you build a strong relationship with you pastor and that takes time, trust, and tenacity.


John is a husband, dad, and pastor. He spent over 16 years in full-time pastoral ministry and has preached to groups of all shapes and sizes. He loves the Lord and is passionate about sharing the life changing message of Jesus Christ! John currently serves as the Director of Ministry Operations for Next Level Worship International. Next Level Worship International is are a non-profit, charitable organization that is dedicated to providing resources, training and missions opportunities. Their goal is to help people experience transformative biblical worship.

John does life with the love of his life Dee and their three children (Billy, Caleb and Beth Anne). John and Dee reside in North Alabama just outside of Huntsville.

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