My title at church has always been “worship leader” or occasionally “the music guy,” but never had “pastor” anywhere in it. But regardless of the title, every worship leader plays a pastoral role.
You have an extradordinary job with high stakes and grand opportunities. You aren’t just a song leader. You aren’t just a lead musician. Your setlists aren’t just an inspiring medley of well-glued songs. You aren’t merely on a stage, and those people out there aren’t merely the audience. They are Christ’s Bride, God’s Beloved, gathered in from the four corners of the world that they might be reclaimed, re-aimed by and toward the Author and Perfector of their faith. They are disciples, followers. What you do and how you lead have a direct and formative impact on the faith-journey of the people of God. In short, whether you know it or not, you are pastoring them.
If that thought scares you a bit, that’s probably not a terrible thing. Pastoring people is a huge responsibility, and one that we must take very seriously.
Zac lists five ways that a worship leader is also a pastor. This one really hit home for me:
Each and every week, you shape the theology of the people who gather. Your songs don’t just inspire; they teach. They help people answer fundamental faith-questions like: Who is God? What is He like? Who am I? How do I look at this world? What is God’s agenda for the world…for me? In short, your songs shape people’s theology. If all the Church had were the worship songs you led (which isn’t far from reality), what would they know about God? Would they know He is Triune? Would they know He is sovereign? Would they know He is holy, all-powerful, all-knowing? Would they know His name is Love? And if all the Church had were the worship songs you led, what would they know about themselves?
That’s a very strong reason to make sure that you’re choosing songs with solid theology.