This Is Why We Cut 75% Of Our Songs

February 17, 2018 | Get free updates of new posts here

One of the changes we’ve made in our worship ministry at the start of the new year is shifting how our worship leaders choose songs for our services.

I’m always paying attention to the size of our library when it comes to worship songs. I believe having a repertoire of songs that are familiar to our congregation and to our worship team helps in lots of ways.

Specifically, it helps our congregation learn the songs so they can sing with greater passion.

Also it helps our musicians so they can play with greater excellency.



In our context at C4 Church, worship leaders choose the songs from our library. Typically we sing five songs each Sunday and we use Planning Center as our home base for those songs. We store and track lots of content for those songs – chord charts, videos, mp3’s, how often we sing the songs, what keys we sing them in, etc etc etc.

Whenever we have new songs that worship leaders would like to introduce we use Planning Center to do that as well and we have all of our worship leaders agree on new songs that we’ll add to our library.

For the first few years I was here on staff this was pretty manageable. Until mid-2015 we were one service in one location with three or four worship leaders and the whole process was pretty contained. Our worship song library was full of very familiar songs for both our musicians and our congregation. Even with different worship leader personalities and preferences, it was still pretty easy to keep everyone and everything moving in the same direction from Sunday to Sunday.

As of January 2018 we are four services in three locations and we have about a dozen worship leaders who are either leading services or being apprenticed to do that, it gets way more complicated and much harder to manage.

Earlier this year we looked at how many songs we had been singing in our church and over the course of 18 months at C4 we had sung 151 different songs. This included older familiar songs we’ve done once or twice in those 18 months, also included Christmas songs but from January 2016 to July 2017 we had included 151 different songs over those 18 months in our worship services for people to sing.

Obviously.. too many songs.

But it was hilarious to hear from worship leaders how many songs they thought we had sung in that same time period. They way underestimated the real number. Usually they were guessing that we had sung about 50-60 different songs, which is still a pretty big library if we’re expecting people to sing loud and passionately as they worship Jesus in our services.

So over the last little while help been moving towards a new model for choosing songs for our worship services.

The heart behind this is that we would sing the same number of songs in our worship services but over time we would sing fewer songs, more often. By doing this we can serve our congregation to really help them grow in their worship as they become familiar with the songs. We can serve our worship teams by not asking them to learn a library of 150+ songs to play excellently in our worship services. And we can serve God by narrowing the focus of our worship songs to some of the most important things we want people to sing about in our services when we are together.

This month we began rolling out our “Top 40” model. The short explanation is that every week our worship leaders will choose 4 of the 5 songs for the worship service they’re leading from an agreed library of 40 worship songs. These are songs that our worship leaders have had input in developing and that we’ve chosen together as the 40 songs that we’ll focus on in this season.

The 5th song for each worship service can be any song from our existing worship library so we still allow for individual worship leader’s personality and preference to come in to play which is definitely a hallmark of our worship services at C4.

A few times a year we’ll revisit our “Top 40” list and we’ll make some changes. We’ll add some new songs that we believe need to be introduced to our services at C4. We’ll also add some songs that we’re writing and recording. For example, all 4 of the songs from the C4 Worship “Hallelujah EP” are in our first Top 40 list. We’ll also remove some songs from our regular Top 40 rotation but keep them in our library so once a song has had a season at C4, we can still include it occasionally but we will make room for newer songs to be introduced.

I’m excited about this. I’m excited about our congregation getting even more engaged with the songs we’re singing because we will have more repetition of fewer songs over time in our worship services. I’m excited about our worship teams focusing more of their attention on fewer songs to help them develop as musicians and play better together as a team. I’m also excited about what God is going to do among us in our worship services as we celebrate Jesus together this way.

Worship Leader Annual Planning Calendar

January 13, 2018 | Get free updates of new posts here

We’re at the start of the new year and by now you’re either thriving in the newness of it all or you’ve pretty much given up that anything will ever change. You may even have realized that you’re pretty much the same person in 2018 that you were in 2017.. and 2016.. and 2015..

We love the idea of newness and getting a fresh start. Worship leaders, you’ve bought that annual planner that you swear is going to change you’re life because this time.. I mean it.. you’re going to keep track of all those meetings, deadlines and action items, right?



If anything, you’ll have the best looking planner with the coolest looking pages and the most revolutionary features.

But will anything change?

You have the opportunity now to set a course for a new year. Not just another year, but for things to not be the status quo in 2018 as they have been in other years.

But it won’t happen by accident.

I want to help you.

After 20 years of leading worship and being in full time ministry since 2005, I’ve learned a few things about planning and succeeding in creative ministry. It’s possible but it’s not automatic.

One of the small but significant steps you can take is deciding now to place some markers on your calendar that will help you take some steps forward in the effectiveness and the fruitfulness of your ministry. You have a desire to grow the impact of the worship ministry in your church and in your community and you know that same old will not get it done.

So what you can you do?

If you are willing today to put 12 – only 12! – accomplishments on your calendar, I promise that 2018 will be your most effective year ever when it comes to your own leadership and fruitfulness.

I’ve put together this annual planning calendar that will help you put 12 accomplishments – one for each month – on your calendar today so that this year doesn’t have to look like every other year.

Every month you need to make a significant step forward either personally, with your team or with your worship ministry but the problem I hear all the time is that worship leaders are often uncertain as to where to begin. The task seems incredibly massive and we’re not able to break it down into achievable action steps.

This is where I can help you.

This is a free download. No tricks, no gimmicks, no upsell. Just click below and you’ll get a free PDF of this worship leader annual planning calendar with 12 significant ministry investments you can make this year.

Of course you’re going to make this your own. You’re going to move things around based on your own church culture and your own ministry priorities. You’re going to use this as a starting point to make sure that 2018 isn’t just another year where you coast along in your leadership and ministry effectiveness. You’re going to grow personally in your own walk with Jesus, you’re going to grow as a leader and you’re going to see the worship ministry in your church grow in ways you’ve never seen happen before.

Here’s to 2018!

New Ministry Year, New Opportunities

September 5, 2017 | Get free updates of new posts here

September may not be the start of the calendar year but for most churches and most worship leaders it is the start of the new ministry year. Summer break is over, people are back from travelling, kids have returned to school and ministry activity is picking up again.

As a worship leader, what are the new opportunities before you this year that you need to prioritize now?

If you think forward to a year from now what are some of the things you’d like to improve on in your leadership?

September is sort of a worship leader’s January so you have the opportunity now to focus on the year ahead and get some of these priorities on the calendar.

Let me give you three suggestions of how a new ministry year can create new opportunities:


1. Get important dates on your calendar today

I’ve written before about the importance of a blocked calendar and how it’s helped me in my leadership. There are some similar principles when it comes to prioritizing dates on the calendar at the start of the year.

Before you realize it’s November here are some events you should have on your calendar now:

  • Auditions – if you don’t have regular auditions for your worship team, this is a great year to start. Even if you get auditions scheduled once in the fall, once in the spring you will be off to a great start. I’ve put together an auditions ebook to teach you more about the system I’ve developed for auditions to grow your worship team.
  • Christmas and Easter prep – one of the most beneficial conversations you can have with your pastor is around these two major events. Invite your pastor (and whoever else might need to be there) to a half day meeting to talk about Christmas and Easter. The potential impact of these two dates on your calendar to reach your community for Christ can’t be understated and you can be prioritizing those days now as you look to the year ahead. Christmas planning can easily happen in September, Easter planning in January.
  • Personal time away – whether it’s vacation or your church has opportunities for days away or even sabbatical, get those on your calendar now and make them a priority. Yes the work you do is important. Yes the role you play in your church is important. But if you aren’t rested and energized to do that work to the best of your ability you are hurting yourself and hurting your church. Get vacation and personal time on your calendar at the start of the year so you have the opportunity to work from rest instead of resting from work.


2. Decide what you can improve by 2%

Have you ever had the idea that you’d love something to be 100% better? Have you ever worked with a pastor who really encouraged you to make significant improvements?

Nobody can make 100% improvements overnight and if that’s what you’re feeling from your boss you need to have a conversation about exepectations.

But.. what about 2% improvement? Do you think you could make a 2% improvement in part of your worship service? Think of all the elements of your worship service and how they could be improved: rehearsal, call to worship, transitions, song selections, band communication, on and on and on. The list is endless.

What if you chose one element of your worship service where you could make a 2% improvement this week and focus on that? And then next week, something different with a 2% improvement. And then another 2% improvement. And then another.

Before you know it you’ll have invested 52 weeks in improving your worship service by 2% each week and you may be on your way to see an overall improvement of 100% in what you do. Not possible overnight, but focus on small changes over a long trajectory and see what is possible!


3. Focus on multiplication instead of addition

So often I’ll talk with worship leaders who tell me they need to add X number of musicians, add X amount to their budget, add X worship leaders to their rotation. Almost every conversation in those situations is a leadership issue, not a resource issue.

Not having what you think you need to succeed in your job is usually a leadership issue and not a resource issue.

And I’m not talking about the leader above you, I’m talking about you.

The difference in looking to add rather than multiply is often the death of worship leaders. The decision to invest leadership resources into people who can multiply themselves into other people is one that will change the trajectory of your ministry and of your church.

Who are the key musicians who can invest in the other musicians on the same instrument? Focus on those people and empower them to multiply themselves into the rest of the team.

Who is the one worship leader who can carry part of your role and is able to apprentice one other leader? Commit to spending time with that person this year and pray together for one other leader to be raised up and apprenticed by the time the year is over.

Who are the people who would love to serve you and your church through the work that you hate to do? Invest in the relationship to make sure that clarity and trust are high and then delegate the work to the person who will do it better than you ever will!

Don’t miss the opportunity at the start of a ministry year to look for ways to maximize your effectiveness as a worship leader. Your trajectory this year will impact – either positively or negatively! – your worship ministry and your church.

C4 Worship – Hallelujah EP

September 4, 2017 | Get free updates of new posts here

Over the last few years at C4 Church we’ve been writing songs, singing some of those songs and celebrating what God is doing in our church through these songs. It’s been an incredible privilege to lead these songwriters and this movement of worship across our church and I’m so excited that we’ll be releasing our first album of original worship songs on September 10.

Buy your copy of C4 Worship Hallelujah EP on itunes now:

The four songs, written and recorded by our team capture some of the beautiful work that God is doing at our church. Our hope and desire is that these songs give Jesus glory and inspire thousands and thousands of your own hallelujahs as you listen to them.

We’re going to be making physical copies available beginning September 10 but you can order the EP now direct from iTunes and receive it as soon as it is available for purchase:

The journey of writing these songs, recording them and now being able to share them with our church family and with you has been incredible. I’m so grateful for the people who have invested their time, their passion, their energy by helping to put to words some of the incredible work that God is doing at C4.

We’ve had the opportunity to get away together and invest in the craft of writing songs, invest in our relationships with each other, invest in the ministry that Jesus is doing in our church. Above all we’ve had the opportunity to invest in our own discipleship as we focus on who God has created us to be, how He’s wired us and how He’s helped us learn more about Him as we’ve written these songs together.

This summer we spent five days holed up in the basement of our pastor’s house (no joke!) and worked with the incredible David Leonard, Seth Talley and Brad King from Creak Music to take these songs from idea and inspiration to beautiful artistic expressions of what God is doing among us. We were really honoured to work with these guys and we learned so much from them.

So grateful for our team. Also grateful they are much better at writing and playing music than they are at arranging themselves for photos.

David Leonard making the magic happen.

Studio time is partly about performing the songs but so much happens in the preparation, in the praying even before we step out to play a note.

The man, the myth, the Lensink.

So many keyboards. So much vibe.

Such an honour to work with David, Seth and Brad on this album. Our team learned so much from them.

My personal favourite moment from our week of recording. Having 30+ of our worship team crammed into the basement, singing their guts out on gang vocals for each of these songs is something I’ll remember for a long time. So grateful for these people.

What a gift. We are seeing prayers answered and dreams coming true right before our eyes. As these songs move from inspiration to idea and now to become inspiration for you in your own worship of Jesus, our prayer continues to be that every hallelujah would be for Him and that these songs would inspire thousands and thousands of hallelujahs all over the earth.

3 Strategies Of Doing Less So You Can Do More

June 20, 2017 | Get free updates of new posts here

One of the ironies of leadership – whether you’re a worship leader, a senior pastor or in any kind of position where you are leading people – is that success typically results in complexity not simplicity.

A worship leader grows their worship team and now has to manage scheduling multiple worship leaders and multiple worship teams. More complex, not more simple.

A senior pastor whose church is growing has to sustain new ministry programs, multiple worship services and perhaps launching new sites. More complex, not more simple.

Success isn’t wrong and complexity isn’t necessarily bad but unchecked complexity will quickly be the downfall of what was once success.

Success leads to complexity. Complexity undermines success.

As leaders, how do we push and pray for success while at the same time remaining focused on the key things God has called us to in our ministry? How do we raise up new leaders while personally maintaining visionary direction over the areas we have been tasked with leading? How do I as an individual stay close to Jesus and connected to the source of my leadership and my effectiveness so that I don’t burn out?

I’ve been thinking about this and working on this in my own leadership over the last year. Here are three strategies I’ve put in place in my life to help me do less as a way to effectively have more impact in my life and my leadership.

Blocked Calendar

If you’ve never spent time blocking out your own calendar you are doing irreparable damage to your own leadership. Leaders will never have enough time for all the tasks, never enough energy for all the demands. If you don’t own your own time for the responsibilities which are crucial to your role you will find yourself overwhelmed with other’s people’s expectations, other people’s meetings and other people’s ideas of how you should spend your time.

Consider this a plug if it’s needed but if you haven’t checked out Carey Nieuwhof’s High Impact Leadership Course let me add my recommendation. After working through the course I’ve been able to develop a new, effective, prioritized monthly blocked calendar that places my primary responsibilities within my prime time effectiveness.

Of course we all have responsibilities to be flexible and available as needed and we get called in to meetings which may not be our favourite things but if you start with your own priorities scheduled first you will make much better use of your time. You’ll end up doing less so you can do more.



The biblical mandate to rest in the midst of work or to work out of rest is perhaps the most overlooked leadership strategy of doing less so you can do more.

The American dream which has made its way around the world is that we should work hard for five days and rest for two. Work for the weekend!

The cultural expectation for pastors is often to be available 24/7, working constantly for the people they are called to serve. This is a calling, not a job!

As usual, the biblical model is neither of these but a third way: work six days, rest one. Modelled in Genesis and instructed by God, all of creation is designed to fit this rhythm of work and rest that actually allows us to do less so we can do more.

By working hard for the five days we’re expected to work at our jobs and then a sixth day where we can work on a hobby, a side project, work on our home, whatever it is. We then guard that seventh day as sabbath and keep it holy and set apart for the Lord.

My sabbath is typically Friday evening to Saturday evening. We have family time, my wife and I have date night and the Saturday is spent “praying and playing,” encouraged by Eugene Peterson in his book Working The Angles.

By focusing on working six days instead of seven you’re freed up, energized, rested and you’ll discover how doing less can allow you to do more.

Time With Jesus

So far we’ve talked about strategy that will give you a monthly calendar as well as a weekly rhythm of doing less so you can do more.

In all of these leadership strategies we have to remember that our daily strength comes from our time with Jesus and how the Spirit of God equips us to do the work He’s called us to do. My personal ministry verse this year has been 1 Peter 4:11 “If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.”

If we’re going to serve Jesus and His kingdom, we have to do that out of the strength that He gives rather than our own ability, talent or expertise.

This means as often as possible I need to be in communion with Jesus, strengthened by His Spirit so that I can continue to do the work that He’s called me to do.

This is more important than strategic planning. More important than casting vision. More important than scheduling volunteers. All of those are tasks which have to happen and all leaders need to spend time doing those things but if I’m doing those out of my own strength rather than this strength that God provides then it’s a downward spiral.

Leaders, every day. Time with Jesus. You will be doing less but in the end you will do more because of your willingness to be strengthened day after day after day by God who loves you and calls you to serve Him and the world.



What about for you? What are some ways that you have been able to learn how to do less so you can do more?

Write Worship Songs: 10 Steps from Inspiration to Completion

April 1, 2017 | Get free updates of new posts here

A few years ago I wrote a series of posts focused on help you write worship songs for your church. As much as I love to lead worship and equip leaders, I love writing songs and being part of a church community that love to work together on songs for our church to sing.

Of course we sing songs from Hillsong or Bethel or Chris Tomlin or Elevation because those are opportunities to join in with the church around the world in a unified song of praise to God. But there are also some songs that our church needs to sing that nobody else can write for us.

God is doing things globally which can be sung through our collective songs but God is also doing things locally which need to be sung in unique ways by your own church.

To help you with this I’ve gathered all ten of these posts as a guide “from inspiration to completion” on how to write worship songs and it’s available now here as an immediate PDF download:

Worship leaders wear many hats and one of the things we get asked to do is write worship songs for our churches. This is a good thing – writing worship songs that come from our congregation’s own experience and speak to our congregation in its own language is a privilege for worship leaders and an opportunity they should definitely pursue.

To write worship songs for your own church is to help give them the language of praise.

This book covers ten important steps from inspiration to completion when it comes to writing songs, cowriting and how to develop as a songwriter to write better songs for your church to sing.

The ten chapters I cover in this book:

  1. 3 People To Talk With Before You Write Worship Songs
  2. The Most Important Conversation Before You Write Worship Songs
  3. 3 Ways The Bible Inspires You To Write Worship Songs
  4. 3 Reasons To Write Worship Songs With People Inside Your Church
  5. 3 Reasons To Write Worship Songs With People Outside Your Church
  6. Where Do You Start – Lyrics Or Melody?
  7. 5 Things To Remember About Lyrics When You Write Worship Songs
  8. 5 Things To Remember About Melody When You Write Worship Songs
  9. Share & Re-Write & Share – Great Songs Are Re-Written
  10. Resources To Copyright Your Worship Song

10 Questions Pastors Didn’t Have To Ask 10 Years Ago

March 24, 2017 | Get free updates of new posts here

No value judgements, no statement on whether these are good or wise or helpful questions. So much has changed over the past 10 years that what was present only in the biggest, most forward thinking churches is now possible in almost any church in most of the world.

As we lead in a new world and raise up new leaders who will lead in new ways we haven’t even dreamed of, we all have new questions we have to ask. The beauty of change is that we’re forced to wrestle with what we do and how we do it and sometimes asking new questions reveals better and more effective ways to reach more people with the gospel.

So, pastors, what questions are you asking now that you didn’t have to ask 10 years ago?

Here are some that I hear pastors asking today:

  1. Should we have one Facebook page for our whole church or one for each ministry?
  2. How do we deliver teaching by video to each of our campuses?
  3. Are we okay with our musicians reading sheet music off their iPad when they play with the worship team?
  4. How can we use YouVersion to help people in our church read the Bible more often?
  5. Should our church build an app?
  6. How can Google Adwords helps us serve more people in our community who are not part of our church?
  7. Should the music director or the drummer run click and cues for the worship team?
  8. Is automated giving better done through direct deposit, text-to-give or by an app?
  9. How do we disciple people through Facebook Live and our online campus?
  10. Should we be present and active on all social media channels or focus on the ones that get us results?



Best Apps for Worship Leaders – 2017 edition

March 2, 2017 | Get free updates of new posts here

Technology has been both a blessing and a curse for worship leaders. What we can are able to do now in our worship services is at the same time easier and more complex. Our phones and tablets can now carry so much of the work which took so much time before.

We also have so much new technology at our fingertips that it can be hard to sort through it all and find the ones which are genuinely helpful.

As technology improves we can now find different and new ways to do our jobs as worship leaders. The goal is not to use as much technology but to find the right apps and tools to help us do our job better.

It’s hard to imagine what we’re able to do with these small devices in the palm of our hand but at the same time there are so many apps out there how do you even begin to find the best ones??

I first released this ebook in 2014, a revised edition in 2016 and now and updated version for 2017 with the best iPhone, iPad and Android apps for worship leaders.


I’ve compiled my new Best Apps for Worship Leaders: 2017 Edition with updates, additions and some removals of apps that either aren’t available or have been surpassed by other, better apps.

Once again I’m making this available totally free a downloadable ebook. It’s available below through the signup box and will arrive right away in your inbox:

Identifying and Developing Young Leaders

February 20, 2017 | Get free updates of new posts here

One of the responsibilities of leadership is not only to lead but also to identify, inspire, motivate and develop future leaders. Helping others see the potential of their own leadership – even when they may not see it themselves! – is an incredible privilege we have as leaders.

Face it, you have not always been the leader you are now and at some point you were given an opportunity to step forward in a new way. Someone saw something in you that made them think you were worth investing in. And now you get to pass that on and do the same for someone else.

And remember, all leaders are temporary. Whatever role you’re in now – whether you’re a worship leader or pastor – you won’t be there forever. Your time will come to an end with a new opportunity or a new position and someone will need to take your place. What better way to ensure that your successor continues your work in the direction you’ve set than to raise up that leader yourself!

But how do you identify who these potential leaders could be? Especially if you’re at a small church it may just come down to a numbers game. You may ask yourself, “Is there even a pool of people I can draw future leaders from?”

Every church is going to have its own criteria for what makes a great leader. You’ll have expectations on spiritual state, ministry experience, church involvement but even within a group of people who check all the same boxes there are still some people who are ready for leadership opportunities and some who are not.

So how do we identify the ones who are ready?

I’ll say right off the top that there is no foolproof method in this. Part of the art of leadership (as opposed to the science) is going with your gut, knowing when failure is okay and understanding that sometimes you will invest in a leader who will not take the investment seriously. You have to be okay with this and understand that over the long haul a commitment to investing in future leaders is undoubtedly worth it.. even with some bumps along the road.

So here are the three indicators that tell me someone is ready and willing for some serious leadership investment. These are things that trigger my leadership antennae and tell me that they are ready for a new opportunity where they can grow and become more effective as a leader.


Show Up

This is the biggest one for me. I look for people who simply show up. People who come early, stay late, come to the team nights, take the training opportunities and are a constant presence at your church or with your worship team.

Showing up should not be taking lightly and it’s a key piece of advice I give to young leaders. You will learn so much simply by being present and it’s the biggest signal for me that someone has leadership potential.

Don’t neglect the powerful potential of simply showing up.

Step Up

Some people will show up.. and show up.. and show up.. but the reason they’re showing up is because they want to be part of the family. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that!

But when it comes to identifying potential leaders at some point you want to see people step up into new opportunities. Taking initiative, expressing curiosity about learning a new skill or just wanting to be involved in a new role is another big trigger in telling me that someone is ready for a new leadership opportunity.

Showing up is how we build the family, stepping up is how we build leaders.

Grow Up

After showing up and stepping up what I’m looking for now is people who grow up to confirm that a continued investment in them as leaders is worth it.

Growing up means taking ownership and responsibility, not just filling a role. Helping rethink how we do what we do so that we’re more efficient and more effective. I’ve even seen young leaders be the ones who are best at identifying other young leaders – this is a great example of growing up!

Of course the greatest example of growing up is how we grow in our faith. You should be expressing and living out more of the fruit of the Spirit in your life, serving more in the areas of your spiritual gifts, deepening your dependancy on Christ and becoming more effective at sharing your faith with others.


Whether you’re a worship leader or a pastor part of your responsibility as a leader is to identify future leaders within your own church and help develop them into their God-given potential as leaders for the kingdom. Imagine the impact of developing leaders who can continue to develop leaders this way but starting out this way will get you headed on the right track.

Look for potential young leaders who show up, step up and grow up!

Who Chooses The Songs We Sing?

February 3, 2017 | Get free updates of new posts here

Over the years as a worship leader I’ve had all kinds of relationships with the pastors I worked for and the teams I led. Almost always those relationships have been fantastic and have been the fertile ground where God was able to grow His work in the lives of people in our church.

One of the key relational dynamics between senior pastor and worship leader is figuring out how songs are chosen for the church to sing in worship services.

Is song choice up to the senior pastor? Does the worship leader get to choose the songs? Who gets to make the final call when there’s a disagreement or lack of clarity around what songs should be sung?

I’ll preface this by saying that in some churches there is very little decision-making to be done. Either because of liturgical requirements or sometimes depending on the philosophy in a multi-site church the worship leader of that congregation really has no input at all in song choice.

But in the majority of modern evangelical churches the responsibility for song choice in a worship service is going to fall somewhere on a spectrum between the worship leader/pastor and the senior pastor.

Let me illustrate with a fine little diagram ?

Let’s go to the extremes first and think about some of the pros and cons of each of the ends of the spectrum:

Senior Pastor Decides

This is certainly one way to do it and probably in smaller churches, church plants or churches where the senior pastor has built the ministry out of their history as a worship leader this is a more likely scenario. This allows the senior pastor to keep the vision of the church fully integrated within all expressions of the church including the worship ministry and is probably a scenario that works well when there is a new relationship between a seasoned senior pastor and a younger worship leader.

The flip side of this scenario is that over time you will end up with a worship leader who is simply implementing the will of the senior pastor. Without an equipping relationship where the worship leader understands very clearly the purpose of the songs and even some of the theological reality underneath song choice when it comes to the order of the service this will, over time, result in a worship leader who loses interest. The pastoral responsibility when it comes to equipping requires that we build into worship leaders an understanding of why certain songs are good choices outside of the fact that they’re our favourites, the church loves to sing these ones, these songs go together really well in a set list.

Senior pastors – how can you help equip your worship leaders to choose great songs for your church to sing?

Worship Leader Decides

The other end of the spectrum is that the worship leader/director/pastor decides the song selection with no input from the senior pastor. This obviously will work best where there is a healthy, trust-filled relationship between the two, where the worship leader has proven not only their musical ability but also their theological thinking in choosing songs for worship. Pastorally the worship leader is also able to lead the congregation in worship and help them grow as disciples, not just play some songs that the people like to sing.

The shadow side in this kind of relationship is that one day the senior pastor may wake up and realize that their vision for the worship services at their church hasn’t really come to fruition and the worship leader has taken the sound/feel/vibe in a different direction than was intended. Obviously this requires lots of communication within the senior pastor/worship leader relationship and also a very high level of clarity in communication from the senior pastor as far as what is expected, what is required and where they’d like the church to go.

Worship leaders – how can you choose songs that help to implement the vision your senior pastor has for your church?

The Middle Road

The truth is that most churches are going to find themselves somewhere between these two extremes along the spectrum. At the end of the day there really isn’t a proven right way of making song choice work for every church in every place so this is one of those relational realities that senior pastors and worship leaders need to work through.

The conversation around this should start as early as a job interview if the worship leader is a paid position or in some kind of talk around expectations if it’s a volunteer role. So many of the relational pitfalls happen simply because there hasn’t been clarity and the expectations are misunderstood on both sides.

Senior pastor – have you been clear with your worship leaders on the kinds of songs you’d like them to choose? Have you been clear about the sound you’d like to hear from your worship teams in your weekend services? Are you equipping your worship leader to understand a theological framework of the worship service and how songs help to tell the grand story of God’s redemptive purpose for the world?

Worship leader – are you submitting to the authority of your senior pastor even in your song selection? Are you communicating clearly with your senior pastor around why you are choosing or introducing certain songs for the congregation to sing? Are you pastoring and discipling the congregation not just to sing songs but to grow in their following of Jesus through their worship?

What about at your church? Where does the responsibility lie for choosing songs? Does the senior pastor or the worship leader have more influence when it comes to the songs your church is singing in the worship service?