Things Our Worship Pastors Wish We Knew

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Most of us are aware of the investment our worship pastor makes in our own life. What we don’t often calculate, however, is the cumulative time and energy it takes to invest in the same way with the entire population of our congregation.

So here are a few things we might not know about worship pastors that they probably wish we did. The list is not an exhaustive one but hopefully gives us a glimpse into the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual demands required to serve as a worship pastor.

They have a hard time getting out of town

Most churches generously offer their worship pastors time away for vacation, sick leave and conferences. But what we don’t realize is the amount of preparation required for them to actually leave town.

Worship pastors not only have to secure substitutes for all rehearsals and services, they also have to prepare all choral music, band charts, orchestra parts, sound instructions, lighting cues, projection needs, orders of service and printed worship guides before they can be absent. Then they have to communicate and rehearse all of those details with the various proxies they’ve enlisted so worship doesn’t miss a beat while they are gone. In reality, they have to do all of the work they would do if they were still in town before they can ever leave town. So it’s almost easier not to go.

They are sometimes out of gas

We depend on our worship pastors to teach and admonish us with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. They are often our counselors, mentors, leaders, friends and spiritual advisors. When our families are in crisis we look to them to referee, repair and reclaim. And yet at the same time we also expect them to challenge and encourage us with stellar worship every Sunday.

Sometimes they are just flat worn out. So how can we expect them to continue to lead us where they may no longer have the fuel in the tank to go themselves? Phillip Yancey wrote, “I wonder how much more effective our churches would be if we made the pastors spiritual health, not the pastors efficiency our number one priority?”

They face the same struggles we do

Serving as a worship pastor doesn’t automatically mean immunity from the personal struggles of life such as depression, anxiety, physical health issues, marital conflict, rebellious children and financial strain. So with all of those personal and professional stressors, how can we not expect that pain to eventually take the same toll on them as it has on many of us?

Worship pastors know that a culture of expendability is often just as prevalent in church life as it is in the business world. So, to keep from losing their ministry positions, save face with their congregation or protect the financial security of their family, worship pastors often bear a heavy burden to fake it and perform even when they don’t feel like it.

Our worship leaders are called to our churches to serve God and us. So does it seem right and healthy that the functional reality is that no one gets less of the ministry of the body of Christ than our spiritual leaders do?[1] If we as a church aren’t stewarding those leaders God has entrusted to us, then who will?

 

[1] Adapted from Paul David Tripp, Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012), 11-12.

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3 Responses to “Things Our Worship Pastors Wish We Knew”

  • Jerry. Line Says:

    Thank you Mrs Boyd. I will have been full time as a minister of music 50 years this coming May. I have lived the days you and your husband have experienced. I am 77 years old and serving part time as minister of music. I too am very tired. I have missed some valuable retirement time the past several years. I now have more freedom than you mentioned but I still have the preparation time before I leave town which is not very frequent.

    Thank you for your honesty

  • David Manner Says:

    Thank you, Cindy for sharing your story. Hopefully it too will help some churches realize the need to update their personnel policies as you mentioned. I also think those churches need to include sabbaticals for ministry staff as a part of those policies too. Thank you to you and Travis for your decades of ministry and the countless lives you’ve touched.

  • Cynthia A. Boyd Says:

    The top 3 areas of concern mentioned here are on target, and the time away issue is definitely the most pressing. My husband is a long time Minister of Worship, having served full time for almost 39 years (as of June 1st). The first 21 1/2 years of that time, he served churches which had a vacation policy that allowed for just 2 Sundays and 10 week days off per year. We would usually use that time by taking a Sunday and 5 week days to visit our families sometime during the summer and again at Christmas break. With travel time included, that meant essentially 2 or 3 days plus a few hours at my hometown and the same at his twice a year. That was all we saw of our families unless they could come see us, which wasn’t often because our parents were all still working then and also had our siblings to visit. What we lost during that time was close connection to extended family members who lived in other states and also having any vacation time for just our bunch without visiting relatives.

    We have found church members everywhere to be loving and generous people. They usually assume that their church has personnel policies which are adequate regarding time away and other issues but are unaware of what the policies really are. Some church vacation policies may remain at that entry level of 2 Sundays and 10 weekdays off, while others increase time away allowed according to the number of years in ministry. What happened in our case was that Travis was called to serve at a new church after 16 and 1/2 years of fulltime ministry. This church allowed 3 weeks after 5 years of ministry and 4 weeks after 10 years – but only years served at that particular church counted toward the vacation time increases. He had to serve
    5 additional years in ministry to finally have 3 Sundays and 15 weekdays off. By that time, many of our Aunts and Uncles that we’d seldom seen and all of our grandparents were gone.

    Personnel policies at some churches probably still need to be updated to count time served at other churches (cumulative years of service in ministry). Usually, an update does not occur until a new Pastor comes who requests that; and the need for revising policies is expressed less frequently at smaller churches which often call very young Pastors. Policies can remain unchanged for decades.

    Thank you, David, for your work on behalf of Worship Ministry and those who serve.

    Blessings,
    Cynthia A. Boyd

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