THE ROLE OF THE PASTOR IN WORSHIP
By: Jack Taylor
The pastor’s role in worship is a critical one. He is to model worship, exemplify worship, teach worship, and practice it as a lifestyle. The congregation will only go as far as their leaders.
The life of King David depicts a leader who leads his people in worship. The fifteenth chapter of I Chronicles tells the account of David bringing back the ark of the covenant back to Jerusalem. In those days the ark signified the presence of God.
His first attempt to bring the ark back was fatal. One man died because David, as the leader, had not sought after and followed God’s mandates for handling the ark. It is important that we follow what God says should be done and the way it should be done.
After David discovered the right manner in which God wanted the ark to be moved, he went to bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord from the house of Obed-edom with rejoicing.
The scriptures gives us a picture of David as the shepherd of the nation, orchestrating, planning, to the last degree, the praises of God. What we see here is the work of the pastor returning to the Word of God.
The pastor is to be the leader in worship because he’s going to be the one who either teaches God’s order regarding worship, or delegates that teaching. Whatever he chooses, it remains his responsibility before God to lead the people to the place in worship where God wants them to be. A few years ago I was asked to be an interim pastor. As I prayed, the Lord indicated that I was to take the church for four months. Then He said, “I want you to preach on nothing but praise.” That was a surprise to me because I had only one sermon on praise. That was the sum total of everything I knew on the subject.
Facing the matter with some trepidation, yet with deep respect for God, I began to share my continuing discovery of what God was showing me about praise.
Reading through the Bible, I was astounded at the number of scriptures dealing with praise. As I taught what I learned I soon noticed something. Though I was only a temporary pastor, I was being watched and I was being listened to. The atmosphere of that body was changing.
Pastors first of all must be practitioners of praise. As pastors, we are leaders of worship just as David was in his time. He led the projects of praise, and he researched the matter of praise. So, in teaching the people, show them the exercise of praise in your own life. Be transparent when sharing with them. Secondly, pastors should be sensitive to where the people they lead are really at in praise. When a pastor moves into an area where his people have never been and allows God to speak to him, he can then come back and share what he’s discovered. People seldom go beyond what their leadership has experienced.
As people become free in their worship, their freedom is going to be a reproach and perhaps bring an insult to some people, as David’s was to his wife Michal. “Michal the daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David dancing and celebrating, she despised him in her heart” (I Chronicles 15:29).
This did not stop him from praising and rejoicing in God. He was totally committed to pleasing the Lord, even if it was a little unusual. His reply to the criticism of his worship was, “I am going to praise the Lord even more.”
So, be willing to take a risk and embody what God is telling you about praise.
Thirdly, if the pastor is responsible for how the church worships then he must be involved with his worship leader and the worship team. The pastor may have mistakenly said to the worship leader, “Worship is your field. I liberate you to do anything you want to do and you have utter freedom.” That sounds good on the front side. But the pastor should spend time with the worship leader or music minister every week to sense the direction of God or there will cease to be a unified move in the same direction.
Fourthly, I believe there must be a constant instruction on the part of the pastor, apart from the worship services as well as within the worship services. What I have been doing is beginning the service as the pastor. After there has been an opening with praise, I have been taking some time to just remark on a facet of praise. For example the Bible says that “shouts of joy will be heard from the tents of the righteous. As so as a congregation we will move into praise and worship with shouts of joy.”
Worship is the most important thing in which and from which all other matters find their proper importance. The task of the pastor is to integrate worship into every cell of the body. I challenge you to keep your discoveries of praise very, very fresh.
(The above material appeared in Worship Today.)
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