Music and Local Church Leadership

Worship Wars was Pastor Hopson’s recent teaching series on Wednesday nights at Poquoson Baptist Church. Click here to listen to the recordings.

The following is part 24 in a series of articles based on the Worship Wars series.

Music and Local Church Leadership

In the last article in this series we discussed some general truths about leadership in the local church. But what does any of this have to do with music? Let’s go back to the roles within the church. What role should the music leader play? Think about what a music leader does. He oversees the congregational singing of the church by selecting songs, planning services, etc. He shepherds the entire congregation by helping them to sing the right songs in the right way. He also shepherds those on his team by helping them to use their gifts and talents faithfully. He should be spiritually mature, someone with the character of an elder. For these reasons I think that it is best for the music leader in a local church to be seen as a pastoral position.

Just to be clear, this does not mean that the music leader needs to be able to preach. One of the qualifications for pastors in the New Testament is that he be “able to teach” (2 Timothy 2:24). I think this means that he is able to explain sound doctrine clearly, not necessarily that he is able to stand up and preach a sermon.

This also does not mean that a music leader needs to be full-time. While we would certainly love to be able to afford a full-time music leader, the reality is we’re not there right now as a church. But once again, the New Testament anticipates that not every pastoral-type position is the same. Some pastors may be volunteers. Others may be paid part-time. Others may be supported full-time because they devote so much of their time to preaching and teaching. 1 Timothy 5:17 puts it this way: “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.”

What I am saying is that I believe in our search for a permanent music leader, we must consider more than musical skill. We should look for someone with the confidence of an overseer, the heart of a shepherd, and the character of an elder. In other words, we should be looking for a Worship Pastor, not just a Music Leader. What this means practically for our search team is that as we screen an individual we will examine four areas of his life:

Callingis he really called to serve in this capacity?

Character—does his personal and family life comply with the qualifications for ministry leadership in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9

Competence—does he have the gifts, talents and capabilities required for this position?

Chemistry—does he have the relational chemistry to work in partnership with the Lead Pastor, the staff, and the church as a whole?

In summary, since the music leader in most local churches functions as an overseer and a shepherd (and since he should demonstrate the character of an elder), we believe there is great wisdom in viewing the music leader as a pastor position.

But what about everyone else involved in music leadership in the local church? From choir singers to drummers and guitarists, most churches have a whole team of individuals devoted to some form of music leadership. How should we think about people serving in these roles? Stay tuned.


© M. Hopson Boutot, 2017


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