People worshiping and leading worship

The Worship Pastor

What is a Worship Pastor?

The worship pastor is in charge of developing and leading the non-preaching portion of the church worship service. Although worship is often primarily associated with music, it also includes all other artistic and technical elements that support having an effective and engaging worship service. These other aspects might include such activities as dance, visual art, video, drama and lighting.

Churches assign various titles to the role of worship pastor. Some of the most common titles are worship leader, worship arts pastor, worship director, worship arts director, music director and music pastor.

The worship pastor is one of the most important leaders in a church because he or she helps people join in the eternal activity of worshiping God. The worship pastor helps people recognize and joyfully respond to God's presence. When people encounter God through worship, they are changed by that encounter to reflect the God they worship.

This article will look at three key topics related to being an effective worship pastor.

Worship Leader vs. Worship Pastor

Although these two terms are often used interchangeably, it is important to distinguish between the role of worship pastor and the worship leader. Admittedly this is splitting hairs, but the distinction is important.

Worship Leader

The worship leader is the person who is leading the worship at any worship service. Typically this is the lead voice for a specific song and may change from song to song. In a broader sense the worship leader is whoever is in charge of the worship for a specific service.

Worship Pastor

The worship pastor, though, has a bigger role: to pastor the people involved in the worship ministry and oversee the overall worship program. This means the worship pastor needs to be more than just a competent musician. He or she needs to be able to lead the team spiritually, be able to work well with the Senior Pastor, be knowledgeable enough in tech to communicate effectively with the tech team and oversee all of the artists that may impact the service, including visual, dramatic and dance artists.

It is not necessary, nor practical, for the Worship Pastor to be competent in all of these areas but they need to know enough about each area to be able to communicate clearly and evaluate the effectiveness of each area.

Get started on your Worship education: Worship Leadership Diploma at Worship Arts Conservatory

Key Competencies

To be effective, then, it is clear that the Worship Pastor must be much more than simply a good singer. Some of the key competencies a Worship Pastor should master are:


Service planning and flow
Scripture selection
Worship introductions and transitions
Public prayer
Song selection
Rehearsal techniques
Ensemble and/or Choir rehearsal
Budget preparation and oversight


Know basics of sound system
Be able to run a soundboard
Understand how to use loops
Know how to put a song into presentation software
Know how to use presentation software
Know basics of lighting and lighting software


Sing lead
Sing Backup
Play guitar and/or piano
Lead while playing guitar or piano
Solo worship - Be able to lead without any other musicians


Thorough understanding of music theory
Chord charts
Guitar TAB
Writing parts for traditional instruments (strings, woodwinds, brass)

General Artistic Knowledge and Communication

Understand how to use other art forms in worship: video, visual art, dance, drama
Be able to communicate effectively with visual artists, video techs, dance and dramatic artists
Understand basics of stage management

How Do I Prepare to Be a Worship Pastor?

There are three common paths people take to becoming a worship pastor:

Self Taught

In this path you teach yourself how to lead worship and gradually add skills as you need them. Although this is becoming a more common way to achieve the position of a worship leader, it is severely lacking in preparation for a complete Worship Pastor. None of us know what we don't know and the help of others is essential to being well prepared for any job, let alone the highly important task of leading others into the presence of God.

Internship/Work Into Position

This method is much better than the self taught method because you will gain valuable practical experience. The problem with most internships is that they rarely develop the essential foundational skills such as music theory, Biblical studies and spiritual formation. Depending on the internship program, they may use the intern more as an extra musicians rather than make sure they master the key skills listed above. Make sure the internship is designed to develop your skills and has a clear list of objectives.

College Degree

The college path will develop the most well rounded musician and hopefully give a solid spiritual base as well. Depending on the college degree, though, it may not make sure you are properly trained as a leader and have practical experience in all of the above skills. Look for a college degree that takes into consideration the breadth of knowledge needed to be an effective worship leader in today's churches.

Introducing Worship Arts Conservatory Internship Program

Our Worship Arts Conservatory Internship Program is designed to combine the best parts of an Internship with college-level study. As a Worship Arts Conservatory intern you will gain hands on practical experience mastering the above skills while you take college-level courses in Music, Bible and Worship Leadership. Know that you are gaining the skills and knowledge you need to be the best Worship Pastor you can be by joining our Worship Arts Conservatory Internship Program.

For more information click the button below.

Jerry Wyrick

by Jerry Wyrick

President, Worship Arts Conservatory

Posted in General Worship, WAC and tagged .