Churches Need Worship Shepherds (Worship Survey Part. 1)

            There’s no doubt that the church has faced many obstacles in planning and implementing worship in the last year. I recently asked worship leaders and other church leaders to take a survey. I also interviewed a few pastors from different worship contexts to see a few different points of view. My purpose was to assess where church leaders thought they were struggling the most with their teams and weekly services. Not only did this survey give me some insight into where help was wanted, I was also able to take a snapshot of where the God’s community in North America is currently in the vitality of our worship, how we want to improve and where we see the next mission field. In this four-part series, I will give me my main take-aways and what they could mean for the future of worship leadership…

You can see the results of the 2021 Survey Here

I. Church leaders want help with team building and shepherding in worship

            When asked where their worship service needs the most growth, the most popular answer at 63% was “recruiting musicians.” It’s not hard to see why building a team would be difficult in a post-2020 landscape and a culture that seems less committed to church compared with even the recent past. While recruiting is not the only issue, I think it encapsulates a general desire to get better at building teams for worship ministry. When I asked these leaders where they wanted more training for their worship team members, some of the most popular answers were things like musicianship, implementing creative elements and audio technology. But when asked where they wanted more training themselves, answers such as spiritual development and shepherding in worship jumped to the top. This points to a desire to encourage people in areas where they are gifted. Leaders see their teams as enabled to “do” much of the ministry and find training in those practical areas helpful. But for themselves, leaders would like help in discipling the people serving on these teams, shepherding them in the development of their gifts.

            Harvey, a pastor from a multi-ethnic church with a contemporary worship style sees the need for developing several elements in Lighthouse Church’s weekend services. He mentioned what he called “intentional elements” or opportunities for the community to respond such as prayers or altar-calls in the service. These elements in worship require not only volunteers like prayer ministers to have the training to assist in guiding the moment, but also for leaders and planners to have the spiritual insight to shepherd the community through it. He also identified the hospitality team, which has been almost non-existent since last March, as an area of growth which will require finding more volunteers. In fact, the denomination he is a part of is looking for advice in this area Post-COVID. For anyone looking to give ideas for ways to do hospitality and make people feel welcome, right now is a great opportunity to innovate.

            In 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 Paul exhorts the church to recognize the differences in everyone’s gifts and to see them as working together for the common good. This common good he is talking about is both in righteous behavior in our daily lives as well as in service to the community.[1] If the gifts that God uses in leading people in worship are given by the Holy Spirit, we can trust the same Holy Spirit to guide us in using and practicing them. As a pastor, Harvey says that he appreciated pastoral gifts in those who help lead worship. Those who can recognize those gifts know that its more than simply training people to fill roles. Worship shepherds or worship pastors model abiding in Christ and teach their teams to do the same. This is because God is the one who acts in worship and worship leaders are eager to become attuned to what he is doing so that they can guide others. Right now, the timing is perfect for us to take the focus away from performance and set our sights God’s glory in our midst.

[1] Peterson, David. Engaging With God: A Biblical Theology of Worship. Intervarsity Press, 1992. Pg. 194


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