Somewhere along the way I learned my responsibility in a worship service was much broader than just leading the music. I came to understand I had other roles that were critical in helping the pastor win every week. A pastor that can focus on the preaching event and the awesome shepherding responsibility to his congregation will be more effective than the one who has to worry about how the service will go.
Here are three easy ways that everyone leading worship can help their pastor.
- No Surprises
Nothing can throw off a pastor’s mindset in a worship service faster than something unexpected happening in the service. Find a way to make sure every aspect of the plan is available to the pastor ahead of time. Over time, he may trust you with this. Don’t ever violate that trust.
Occasionally, a church wants to surprise the pastor – perhaps on his birthday or anniversary. If you know the pastor so well that you can predict his response, trust your judgement. If not, ask his wife confidentially how he might respond to a surprise in the service. Carefully think about anything that would feel like a surprise. If in doubt about anything, don’t do it. Just don’t.
- Keeper of the Clock
He has prayed and prepared all week. He has something burning in his heart that he is convinced God wants him to say. Then, a 10-minute testimony leading up to a song takes the wind right out of his sails. Now, the whole sermon feels rushed and he may not even get to the point he was convinced God put in his heart for the church.
The Worship Leader has got to fight for those minutes on his pastor’s behalf. It may take time to get there, but a worship leader can create a culture where everyone is sensitive to the pastor’s time. Why force the pastor to be a bully and fight for it? The worship leader can protect it on his behalf.
I’ve cut many songs on the fly to protect my pastor’s time. And if someone on the team couldn’t be trusted with time, they would lose the opportunity to serve until they could be trusted.
- The Pastor’s Concierge
Does he need water? Has the battery in his lapel been refreshed? Is there a person who has him “trapped” in an unnecessary pre-service conversation that I can help him wrap up? Does he have a copy of the worship folder? Is there a visual in his message that I can double-check for him? It’s an infinite list.
Or, one of my personal favorites – can I take care of his Bible? I loved going up to my pastor at the end of the service when people were lining up to speak to him or when he was about to go into a time of counseling with someone who had responded that morning and say, “Let me have your Bible, Pastor.” I would either put it in his office or hand it back to him a little later.
The principle is this – find little and seemingly insignificant ways to serve his personal needs before and after the service. Over time, it will send the clear and sure signal that you are there to serve him and to help him with the overwhelming responsibility of leading a church spiritually as pastor.
Anyone can do this, no matter the size of your church. So just do it.
You – and your pastor – will be glad you did.
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.