That was the reaction of many of my fellow church members at Brentwood Baptist Church when our pastor asked me to fill the pulpit some time back. It reminded me of another conversation I had with another pastor back in 1985. I was serving at Istrouma Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, and Brother Jim Bain was my pastor. He invited me to his study one day and said, “You’re preaching Sunday night.” To which I replied…
“What? I’m preaching?”
He went on to explain that any person that would serve on his staff ought to be able to pick up a Bible and share a few things about what God said in His book.
And ever since, I’ve pondered the difference of being a “Worship Pastor” and a “Teaching or Preaching Pastor.” And, I’ve come to realize the difference has more to do with gifting than calling. Let me explain…
When I was in junior high, God called me to ministry. At the time, I envisioned that to be in the role of music and student ministry, mostly because that’s all I had ever seen in the church I grew up in. I had a passion for music, a growing faith and a desire to serve the Lord with my life. I understood, at the time, that meant I would do what Brother Buddy Earwood was doing at my church – be a Minister of Music and Youth.
So, I went to college to learn music. And to seminary to learn more about God and how to handle His word accurately (and further develop my musical skills). Since then, I have served Him with my life vocationally. But, the twists and turns along the way have been nothing like what I imagined. And here’s what I’ve come to believe along the way:
Music is not my message. It is only my language.
And the message I proclaim is the very same one my pastor is proclaiming. It is the uncompromised Gospel of Jesus Christ. In that sense, I am a preacher. I’d better be.
I also believe there are God ordained offices in scripture and one of those is the Elder/Shepherd role and that is filled by His leader – the Senior Pastor. I’m not confused about where the Worship Pastor fits in that organization. There is one lead Shepherd of a flock. I am called to shepherd along side him and to follow his leadership with the rest of the flock.
That said, I see it more clearly now than ever. I’m a Worship Pastor with a Preacher’s heart. I don’t see how I could be the former without being the latter.
How about you?
Mike Harland is the Director of LifeWay Worship. When he’s not directing 30+ employees, you’ll find him leading worship at various churches around the country, writing/arranging worship songs and/or, writing his next book. In his spare time, he loves playing basketball and spending time with his family. Mike can be found on Twitter @MikeHarlandLW and on facebook.com/Mike.Harland.37.