I realize that many who have the joy of leading in musical worship are not elders in their local church context. That said, the Apostle Paul tells us that it is a noble aspiration to be an elder-pastor (1 Timothy 3:1). I’m not looking to unpack the evidences and qualifications for those sensing a call to biblical eldership. There are many great resources to take you further (start here, then here, then maybe here).
The “Pastor” in Worship Pastor
Having said that, if you are a worship pastor, I want to remind you of something that I hope you feel deeply. It is an unspeakable joy and privilege to serve as a pastor. The key term in the title “worship pastor,” is pastor. In many ways, I would rather be called “one of the pastors at The Church at Brook Hills,” than the “Worship Pastor of The Church at Brook Hills,” because the latter reminds me of my primary job description.
This is not to imply that worship pastors should pretend that music is not a big part of what we do. It certainly is. But, when we read about gathered praise in the New Testament, we don’t find detailed instructions on matters related to music. Band or acapella? Choir or no choir? How many songs? Nothing there. Those decisions are to be pursued through prayerful discussion with the elder-pastors and implemented in the hopes of edifying your particular local church.
If these are matters of prayerful discretion and pastoral discernment, then, what are the things that God has said are my primary, non-negotiable assignments as a worship pastor?
Enter 2 Timothy. With a cursory look at 2 Timothy, we see implications for the worship pastor in many places. While not directed as a defense of the role of the worship pastor, much can be learned from this pastoral epistle. As we consider our roles as those who serve as singing shepherds, may we consider from His word our role in the body of Christ.
The Worship Pastor’s Role
May God help us to say and live out these kinds of pastoral commitments before the people we have the privilege to serve. As worship pastors, by the grace of God, we commit:
To serve under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. To be “good news” pastors—making much of the promises, grace, mercy, and peace which come from God and our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Timothy 1:1-2)
To pray for you constantly. (2 Timothy 1:3-4)
To render honor to believers who have come before us, on whose shoulders we stand, and to make much of the ministry investments that are being made in less visible places—reminding you (and ourselves) that the size of the platform is not the measure of one’s ministry. (2 Timothy 1:5)
To prioritize the multiplication of ministry—encouraging you and others to a full expression of your God-given gifts. (2 Timothy 1:6)
To center our songs, exhortations, and ministry on the gospel. To faithfully uphold the truth of Scripture, with particular emphasis on teaching that produces/increases faith and love for Jesus. (2 Timothy 1:8-14)
To not let the railings of gospel opponents be a distraction or discouragement, but rather an incentive to discipleship. To labor to reproduce ourselves through discipleship. (2 Timothy 1:15-2:2)
To diligently work towards transferring truth to the next generation. Praying and working to see civilians turned into soldiers, and previously-passive believers into a) competitive athletes who have spiritual ambitions for the glory of Christ and 2) hard-working farmers whose lives are bent on sowing gospel-seed everywhere they go. (2 Timothy 2:1-2)
To resist the temptation to build a ministry on cultural trends, but rather to build it on the foundational importance of proclaiming Christ and trusting that God’s Word, particularly the word of the gospel, is the power the Holy Spirit wields for salvation and growth. (2 Timothy 2:8-21)
To urge you to run from sin and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. To warn you about false teachers, bad books, unhealthy movements. To correct those trends in a spirit of concern, humility, and prayer. To remind you that wrong ideas are not just wrong ideas. They are snares of the devil that capture people. (2 Timothy 2:22-26)
To not be trivial about the realities of sin in this world and the presence of sin in our hearts. (2 Timothy 3:1-9)
To walk in integrity by the grace of God. To confess sin, strive for holiness, pursue deeper amazement at God’s grace. To not have a double life. (2 Timothy 3:10-13)
To stand before you under the conviction that if God’s Word doesn’t say it, you don’t need it in order to be equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:14-17)
To manifest reverent submission to God’s Word. To contend for the conviction that biblical preaching must be both faithful to the text as well as wisely applied to the Christian life. (2 Timothy 4:1-2)
To resist the impulse to build ministry by parroting the values and creeds of our culture. (2 Timothy 4:3-5)
To live and minister in the strength that God provides, confident in His grace, and with our sights set on the New Jerusalem. (2 Timothy 4:9-18)
To regularly—through personal interactions, hospital visits, private and public prayers—commend you to the grace of God. To exude optimism about God’s work in your hearts and lives. (2 Timothy 4:22)
Whether in title or in function, may God be gracious to us and send worship pastors to help shepherd and shape the people of God. If you are a worship pastor who feels in despair, this list of commitments is not meant to be a weapon but a tool. Search the word of God and see how it shapes the life and ministry of the dependent worship pastor.