Two Sides Of The Coin

Featuring John Telman Posted on May 8, 2009

It was my joy to be a worship pastor for over twenty years. During that time, great senior pastors encouraged and guided me. Sometimes we didn’t agree. We had different perspectives. Yes, we both desired to ignite worship in the church but we occasionally saw things slightly different.

Now I am a senior pastor. Not much has changed except I have a greater appreciation for both the ministry of worship leader/pastor and of the senior pastor. In the life of the church, nothing intersects more than these two ministries.  They are two sides of the same coin.  To the worship leader, worship is the expression of faith in song.  To the pastor, worship is the total lifestyle of the members of the congregation.  The pastor also has to concern himself with treatment of every member of the congregation.  Clashes can happen when the pastor feels that there are segments of the congregation not being properly considered in the decisions of the worship leader.

Martin Luther called music “the handmaiden of theology”. Most commonly, the sermon is preceded by worship. The idea is that of dialogue. We speak to God in worship and then we listen to God speaking to us through his word being preached.  Then there are other times when the sermon is so moving that worship in song becomes the logical response.

I am so grateful to the pastors who patiently nurtured me and gave me room to try new things. At times, I’m sure it was scary but they were affirming. In fact, one pastor I worked with sang in the choir, respectfully under my leadership! What an amazing man.

Often the pastor will be many years older than the worship leader. He may have different personal tastes in music. He may enjoy the music of Bill Gaither while the worship leader may prefer tunes by Lincoln Brewster.

The potential for problems can occur when one side of the coin works independently of the other. How is that even possible? In the flesh, it is possible but as humble hearts focus on the greatness of God, personal tastes fade. When there is unity of hearts in praise of an awesome God, methods and forms become less important.

So how do we practically serve together?

First we must see the greatness of God and celebrate him. We can find a wonderful song and feel that it must be sung but what if the pastor feels differently? A worship leader must decide in his heart that he worships God and not the song. In other words, hold "things" loosely.  He needs to take to heart correction from his shepherd whenever there is truth to it.  As a senior pastor, however, I hope that I will have an open ear to godly ideas coming from the worship leader I work with.

Secondly we must treasure one another more than things. God has made us a family. No matter what challenges arise, the senior pastor and the worship leader must guard their relationship. Frustration can easily grow when we entertain the temptation to put things ahead of people. After our love for God, we are to love each other with a great determination.

"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!" (Psalm 133:1 NASB)