Dr. Tim Spivey on the pastor/worship leader relationship:
There are certain ministry roles have more conflict between them than others. Senior Pastors and Youth Pastors, Church Administrators and Youth Ministers, for example. There is also sometimes significant tension between the Worship Leader and the one preaching Sunday. This is obviously not the case in every church, but it is in many churches.
Truth be told, I understand, but haven’t experienced it a lot. I had the unusual experience of spending nearly five years as a Worship Minister before entering the pulpit. I’m sure that’s helped me empathize with the trials and travails of those called to the lead God’s people in worship. It’s also given me a profound appreciation for their ministry–and I hope that comes through on a daily basis.
In my 17 years of ministry, I’ve been blessed to serve alongside two worship leaders. I hired both of them within a year of my arrival at the churches I’ve served, and we have served together until either I transitioned out (Chad Higgins–who just celebrated 10 years of ministry at HOCC) or…we’re still serving together (Peter Wilson at NVC). We’ve been not only partners in ministry, but true friends.
I don’t want to leave the impression I’ve never had conflict with a worship leader. However, I have no question the degree of unity between me and the worship leaders I’ve worked with has been an enormous contributor to our church’s success over the years. God blesses unity, and ongoing tension between those leading God’s people in worship and leading them in study of His Word will impact a church–even if they keep it under wraps as best they can.
Here are some things I’ve observed over the years that have blessed my relationship with Chad and Peter. Note that many of these are attitudes, not tasks.
1. Hire a worship leader you trust at least as much as you trust yourself to plan the service. You need to respect them musically and theologically. If you don’t trust them, you’ll meddle. If you meddle repeatedly, it won’t go well. If you find yourself needing to “guide” things all the time…you’re either a control freak, hired the wrong person, or both.