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Worship Pastor or Worship Leader?

Recently, 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 skillset 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!

Part 2: What Is A Worship Pastor

Jason Whitehorn

Owner, Chief Visionary at got worship? Media
Jason Whitehorn is a worship leader/pastor, Christian songwriter, mentor, public speaker and Christian music promoter/publicist. Jason's articles have been published in both online and National publications and has broadcast in both radio and television - reporting and anchoring for affiliates such as ABC, CNN, and CNN Headline News. Jason is the Redemptive Arts Pastor at Grace Church in the Indianapolis-Metro area.

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