Browse By

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 diffrenciate 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, worship team members, etc…but we are specificaaly 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 worship 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 worship services by some brilliant worship leaders.  When the service was over – and life went on – and the worship leader (be it a travelling worship 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 over the next couple of days I want to focus on the skills and skill-set that I feel a strong worship pastor should have.  Until then – I’d love to hear your definitions of each.  Feel free to post your thoughts and comments below!


2 thoughts on “Worship Pastor or Worship Leader?”

  1. Sofnan says:

    I like this article it marks me alot because i am a worship leader in my church and member of our church choir. This is a huge spiritual duty/responsibility. Yes the worship Pastor goes beyond bringing music/song to the people. Now my question is why add “worsip” to the Pastor’s title?? Because form the definition above you gave, its just the duties of the Pastor to take care of his community and know them like family…so why the “worship” tag to the Pastor title?

    1. mm
      Jason Whitehorn says:


      Thanks for the comment and the question. The duties that I gave above did not LIMIT the duties to ONLY the areas of taking care of the community. Instead, it answered the question in the title of the article: “Worship Pastor or Worship leader”? What is the difference? Many people call a worship leader a pastor when the leader is not engaging as a pastor. The reason a person who is engaging as a “pastor” in this role should have the word “worship” in the title is because their role of “pastor” in the church also deals with worship. We also have people who are “Student Ministry Pastors” because they work in student ministry. These labels on define an area in which they have expertise. I fully understand that this fits more of a western (US primarily) outlook on ministry. It may be a bit odd to hear that if you are from a country (as some of our readers are in Africa) and think that there are people who would walk up to us and say “hello, Worship Pastor Whitehorn”. The “worship” in the title simply denotes the area in which we work. No one here would greet me as a “Worship Pastor Whitehorn” or “Worship Pastor Jason.” They would greet me as “Pastor Jason” or…”Jason”. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have you Subscribed via RSS yet? Don't miss a post!