I was ecstatic as I walked off stage. For the past 25-30 minutes I had the opportunity to lead a church in worship through song at one of its services. For those who know what it feels like to lead the people of God each week, it is at its core a truly humbling experience. There are times when I've never felt closer to the Lord than when I'm leading His people to sing His praises. So it made sense that this particular night I was on a "high" after leading. The service continued with the sermon and finally concluded after a time of invitation. Shortly after, my wife and I entered the fellowship hall where the church was serving cookies and drinks and as people started to talk to me I heard one person refer to me as the "music man."
I'm not exactly sure what made me internalize these words, but it really frustrated me. Was that all I was as I tried to lead people to see the glory of Christ through Scripture and song... a "music man?"
Since being called to the ministry 7 years ago I have realized that being on stage and singing songs is more than just that. The role of a worship leader, song leader, worship pastor, music minister, or whatever terminology you want to use, is at its core pastoral. Think for a minute, you don't always remember the content of a sermon a couple weeks later but you will more than likely remember a melody. In my mind, this is why music style is so controversial in churches today, because it is so powerful. Music impacts people, it makes the message memorable. So consider this: if a memorable melody is coupled with solid and effective Gospel truth then wouldn't that constitute some sort of teaching or pastoring? People take something away from it, can be taught by it and grow closer to Christ through it.
My current position at Community Life Church in Forney allows me the amazing opportunity to pastor the people of God through song. Not long ago after the conclusion of one of our services, I walked into the church foyer and was met by a middle-aged man who said to me simply, "thank you for teaching us." He didn't say, "thank you for singing," or "thank you for playing the guitar," or "thank you for singing on pitch," (although this is a good thing!). He simply said, "thank you for teaching us." That phrase hit me to the core... My role on Sunday isn't to simply sing songs, or to entertain. My role is to pastor and teach.
Just like the pastor who brings the sermon or the message, my responsibility is similar. By no means am I trying to elevate my position or lessen the power of the sermon. That is not my intent. I am trying to simply teach that the role of the music minister or worship leader in the local church seems to be downplayed as second rate or an avenue to "set up" the sermon. This is unfortunately done by both members of congregations as well as the worship leaders themselves. The music doesn't set up the message or vice versa in a church service. ALL elements of the service, from singing to preaching to communion work together as a unit to bring glory to Christ.
My journey as a worship pastor has taught me that there is more at stake with people's eternities than just 25 minute music sets every Sunday. People need to sing the truth of the Gospel and be taught it's eternal implications. If you are currently serving as a worship leader or worship pastor I pray that you would see your role as a teacher, or someone who can communicate Gospel truth to the people of your congregation. Use your Bible, memorize Scripture, and quote it often. Don't let a song be sung without communicating the biblical truth behind it. Explain things! Many people in your congregation don't even know what words like mercy, grace, justification, hallelujah, glory, sanctification, or Amen mean. You are not called to be a "music man." God has given you this platform to make much of Him and to biblically shepherd and teach His people. Use it wisely.