So, you want to be a worship pastor. You want to lead people to the throne of heaven and get paid for it. People do make a living that way. It’s possible. Let’s talk about how to do it.
Serve where you are
Worship leaders lead worship. Period. They don’t need a stage or a paycheck or a microphone or a custom molded in-ear monitor or a pedal board. They need the Holy Spirit, and that’s about it.
“Worship leader” isn’t a job; it’s a calling. If God has wired you to be a worship leader, you should be leading worship wherever you are. Your living room, the park, a hotel lobby—the location doesn’t matter. Why would you want to do on a church stage what you are not willing to do anywhere else? (click to tweet)
Charles Spurgeon said, “If God has called you to be a missionary, don’t stoop to be a king.” I think the same is true of worship leading. If that is the burden God has given you, don’t settle for anything else. Go do it—who cares if you get paid or not.
Rescue your ambition
“If your life is motivated by your ambition to leave a legacy, what you’ll probably leave as a legacy is ambition.”
Ouch. While ambition is definitely a redeemable personality trait, for those of us who spend lots of time on stage, it can run quickly out of control.
If you think you’re meant for the bright lights of Nashville, and worship pastor is just a stepping stone on the way to your recording contract, do everyone a favor and skip it. The worship pastor is the second most visible person to the church, and if your artistic ambition is pulling against the senior pastor’s leadership, you’ll create a devastating division. You might not even realize it. You might blame a hundred thousand other reasons, and really believe that you are faultless. But you won’t be.
Besides, “the seats of fame belong to those for whom they have been prepared” (Matthew 20:23), and God sees the proud, but only from a distance (Psalm 138:6).
Learn, learn, learn
A great worship service has a lot of moving parts. Tech, vocals, instruments, multimedia, lifetime Christians and their expectations, visitors and their apprehension, the senior pastor and all his passionate opinions, and (oh yeah) the Holy Spirit. You need to know about all these things, and not just in a casual way. You need to be able to troubleshoot both the projectors and interpersonal conflict with equal skill. That’s a tall order. We’d like to help you, so we write quite a bit about things that you’ll need to know.
Here are a few resources that we’d recommend.
Logos—Because every good worship leader is also a theologian, you need top-notch Bible software. Understand context and authorial intent, and find biblical answers for your life and your ministry.
The Worship Architect—There are a lot of books about worship available today, but not many of them provide a comprehensive, practical methodology for designing a worship experience. You will find a workflow that fits your context, but it’s always helpful to hear how someone else does it.
Worship through the Ages—Elmer Towns, the highly respected cofounder of Liberty University, traces the history of cooperate worship through church history. More than an academic exercise, this book will help you understand the heritage on which you stand.