Category Archives: Worship Leader

Worship Leader = Pastor

Worship Leader = Pastor

In my denomination, the “worship leader” is the Pastor – end of discussion, and I wholeheartedly support this.  He has given 8 years of his life to higher education, he has pursued a Masters in Divinity and he has learned the Greek and Hebrew languages.  What the rest of the Christian world refers to as a “Worship Leader”, we use the term “Musical Director” or “Musical Coordinator” or “Praise Band Leader” or some other similar term.  This just seems right with me.

So, in the traditional church that predominantly uses hymns, what are the traits of this elusive “Praise Band Leader?”  I can only tell you what traits I strive for after doing this for over a decade.

  1. I stay in the Word as much as possible by reading God’s word, devotional books and praying as often as possible.
  2. The only music that I listen to is Christian music. I keep on top of the new releases coming out of this genre and I collect lead sheets and piano arrangements.  I also make it a habit to categorize all of my music by scripture reference.
  3. I attend church and bible class regularly and am active in my membership. It is an inseparable part of my life and is woven into my daily and weekly routines.
  4. I know my congregation well. I know them better than my own fretboard and believe me that says a lot.  I know what songs they can sing and what songs they will enjoy in worship.  I use this knowledge in choosing music.
  5. I follow my Synod and read as much of their correspondence as I can. I use their APPS, I bookmark and use their websites, I listen to their podcasts and I subscribe to all of their email lists.  I strive to know their teachings and doctrines and apply these principles in choosing music.
  6. I am diligent in my work. I do my worship planning at least one month ahead of time and I submit my song choices to our Pastor so that he can review the lyrics for false teachings (and they do exist in some of today’s music) and for appropriateness for the intended Sunday.  If it’s a new song, I also include a youtube link so that he can not only hear the lyrics but the style of the song as well.  I respect his opinion and never second guess his responses.  I trust him and I learn from him.  He is responsible for our worship and has to answer to God and to his Synodical leaders if things go bad – not me.  I fully understand this.
  7. I am well prepared when I am scheduled to accompany worship. I arrive early, do a sound check and organize my arrangements.  We are well rehearsed and I know what lines I am singing, all the transitions and the song flow.  Sometimes I will express my musical creativity through my guitar playing but never in a showy manner.
  8. I turn the other cheek when someone calls a song a “7/11” song or expresses other hurtful remarks with regards to either contemporary music or traditional hymns because both are worshipful and powerful and because I want to follow Jesus’ lead.
  9. I do my best to fix my eyes on Jesus at all times.
  10. I acknowledge the presence of the Spirit inside me and rely on Him to inspire, to teach and to lead me.
  11. I am not a leader, I am a servant.
  12. I am a sinner. The above characteristics are my goals and oftentimes I fall short.

Musician or Artist?

by Steve Brown and Mike Westendorf

Are you a musician, an artist, or both? Are the best musicians artists? This post attempts to answer these questions.

In the secular world, you can watch any popular singing talent show and hear the judges tell the contestants that ‘artists’ make the song their own. And it’s the incredibly talented ‘musicians’ that back-up the singers.

The Musician
A musician is a person who plays an instrument to make pleasing sonorous sounds either solo or in joyful combination with other musicians. Musicians can be highly technical and accomplished to the point of sight reading nearly any piece of music and from any style or genre. They are detail oriented and like things ordered.

The Artist
By contrast, an artist usually has the musician’s skill set but adds to it an individual interpretation. The artist is a creative type by nature, she sees things a bit differently, she innovates and interprets a piece of music beyond the printed notes – they like to be the ones with the box of crayons. He is a trendsetter with something burning in his heart that he just has to share. The artist is more personal and less of a perfectionist and typically uses the right side of the brain more. Artists tend to be somewhat thin-skinned, sensitive and more emotional than other people. The artist sometimes needs the musician to help bring their musical creation to life.

Both are needed in God’s kingdom. Both are servants. Both are gifted by God. Both are passionate. Both are loved by God. Both are God’s children. We need both. We encourage you, as the church leaders to foster a community that engages both in harmonious worship.

The Church
Unfortunately, in the traditional church where Steve and Mike roam, the musicians tend to dominate and the artists are somewhat looked upon with judgmental suspicion. This is sad because it’s what’s in the heart that matters. But based on the definitions and observations mentioned here, both musicians and artists can have humble, servant hearts with a passion to serve their Lord and the congregation. Let’s put it this way, King David was most likely both an artist and a musician.  

In the church, we actually need to learn how to harness the artist’s gifts better. Here is some advice:
  1. Artists are particularly well suited for special events such as concerts, picnics, outreach events, teen groups, special bible studies, festivals, etc.  Give the artists a little room here and watch their imaginations bring glory to God.
  2. Artists can be used in the worship service but might need a little guidance from the Pastor in terms of song selection and protocol.
  3. Combine the artists with the musical worship team for a bounty of beautiful music.
  4. Have the artists work with your musicians to help to improve their craft, and vice-versa.
So which are you?  Me (Steve), I am a musician and not a very good one. Mike, he’s an artist and too humble to say, so I’ll say it for him – he is a gifted one. In the end, it of course doesn’t matter; what does matter is your belief in Jesus as your personal savior from sin.

A special thanks to Mike Westendorf for joining me on this post and sharing his insights. Mike is a church ‘musician’ and a recording ‘artist’ in the Milwaukee area. For more information, or to discuss booking arrangements at your church, contact Mike at:


Other places to learn more about Mike and his music:

I Will Lead More than a Song

I Will Lead More than a Song

I will lead more than a song
More than a Psalm or two
I will encourage the people to sing along
This is what a worship leader should do

I will sing more than a hymn
I will praise and pray
Deep from my soul within
From this earthen vessel of mired clay

I will strum more than a chord
Living for Jesus, day by day
Lifting our voices in one accord
And for my Pastor, I will pray

I will reach for ever higher notes
For the gospel, I am not ashamed
For Christ, in Him alone do I boast
He overcame; Worthy to proclaim

When you sing, you will find a blessing. God will not judge you if you sing poorly because He knows your heart and that’s what matters most to Him. Singing is the voice of your heart. If you can’t sing well, consider it an opportunity for humility. You will never be ostracized for a lack of skill when it comes to singing.

I Am Thankful


I am thankful that you gave me eyes to see the vibrant colors of this world and ears to enjoy the sounds of birds singing, babies laughing and the music that stirs your soul.  

I am thankful that you gave me a sense of smell to take in the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, lavender & lilac; and the gift of touch to cling onto a loved one.

I delight in You with words and music of praise and gratitude.

You are my Father. Would you please heal those near to me so that they might experience life to it’s fullest as well? Especially Pastors and Worship Leaders who can easily get overwhelmed this time of year. Heal their aches, pains, anxieties, and stress of all kinds so that they can focus on the Advent of their King and the birth of their savior. Reassure them that they are your dear children, that you know their names, that you deeply care for them and that you have uniquely gifted them to serve your people.

Instill in us an unwavering trust in your providence. Be with us. Strengthen us and bolster our confidence.

Father, I ask that you bless every person that is reading this right now. Touch them today. Be near them. Warm their hearts. Help them to see the differences that you are making in their life’s and their ministries.


May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13


Boston Strong!
Physical strength.
Mental strength.
Emotional strength.
Soul strength.
Creative strength.
Behavioral strength.
Unique strength.
Heart strength.
Mind strength.
Character strength.

Lord, as I age over the decades, my talents may lessen, my skills may diminish, my resources can change or be lost, but I ask You for help to focus so that my character strengths will soar for your glory.
God, bless this, I pray.

A fifty something worship leader.

I am told that people are like trees: the shadow of the tree is reputation, the fruit of the tree is personality, but the roots of the tree are the most important – character!


We meet no ordinary people in our lives. – CS Lewis

I am a worship leader and I grew up in my church! Most worship leaders (musicians in today’s vernacular) do come from within the church. Unlike pastors, staff ministers and youth pastors, many worship leaders have attended their church for years, sometimes decades, before serving on the staff.

For me, this is good because:

1. I know my congregation and they know me. They are comfortable with me. They often volunteer to help sing or play an instrument with the band. They are the very people who have helped me to get to where I am in life. They have provided me with opportunity, strength, stability, friendship and endurance.

2. They know me from attending worship, bible class and fellowship events. They know my track record of faithfulness.

3. I know the history and personality of the church. I know it’s vision. I know the people. I know the culture. I know the community. I know their strengths and weaknesses. I know the church’s doctrines.

4. I know what musical styles the congregation is comfortable with.

God had a hand in placing me with these people and joining us into a friendship and fellowship of believers.

Four things a man must learn to do If he would make his life more true:
To think without confusion clearly,
To love his fellow-man sincerely,
To act from honest motives purely,
To trust in God and Heaven securely
– Henry Van Dyke

The Burned-Out Worship Leader

The Burned-Out Worship Leader

 To the volunteer musicians and worship leaders reading this, I would just like to say….

Thank you for serving the people of God faithfully.
Thank you for carefully choosing songs and for singing like there’s no tomorrow.
Thank you for the endless hours of research and practice.
Thank you for caring about your church and for giving your time to lift up His glorious name.

I know you may not feel appreciated.
I know that you may feel overwhelmed.
I know that you may receive more complaints than compliments.
I know there are people who call your beautiful instrument the devil’s instrument, and refer to your worship as “happy clappy” or as “7-11” songs.

The stress of ministry can be tremendous. This is a cross to bear.

But know that you are making a difference!
You are not simply an entertainer or a “warm-up” to the message.
You are pointing people to Jesus.
The Holy Spirit is wonderfully using you to create an environment where lives are being transformed.
You are raising up other musicians and worshipers around you.
You are making disciples.
You do this simply by example.
The Spirit is alive and well in you.

You are pleasing to God.
He loves your voice, your musicianship, your professionalism and your songs.
He loves your dedication and your prayers that no one else sees.
He loves to hear your voice.
He knows your heart.

While others may not notice or see all that you do,
God certainly does.
This is the beauty. This is the goal. This is your calling. This is your life. These are your gifts. This is your worship offering.

Don’t give up.
Don’t give in to burn out.
Don’t allow frustration to overwhelm you.
The work you are doing is vitally and critically important.
The work you are doing is necessary.
The work you are doing is appreciated.

Bottom line…
You have been called by God and we need you to lead us.

Pastor – meet the Worship Leader; Worship Leader – meet the Pastor!

I recently listened to a round table discussion between Pastors and their Worship Leaders (a Lay position, sometimes called “Music Director), in a podcast, that I found to be interesting, amusing and very appropriate for the audience that reads this BLOG.


I know that I (as a “Worship Leader”) personally resonated with these discussion items and I also know that my Pastor is going to relate to, and chuckle at, some of these comments when he reads it as well.


These are my notes from this particular round table discussion:


What a Pastor wants in a worship leader:

  • Piety
  • An in depth knowledge of theology and doctrine
  • Men of God
  • Teachable
  • Attends Pastor’s Conferences with me
  • Good people skills
  • Musical skills
  • Character
  • Someone who can fill in my character gaps and weaknesses and hopefully I’ll do the same for him – together we need to make an awesome team
  • Easy to get along with
  • Knowledge of the Bible
  • Commitment
  • Dependable
  • Choose music to complement my preaching
  • Choose an upbeat song before the sermon (followed by chuckling)
  • Listen to hymns; in fact read your hymnal as a devotional book
  • Stop spending so much time and energy on the contemporary services and do something to help out with the Traditional as well


What a Worship Leader wants in his Pastor:

  • A Friend and Confidant
  • Trust
  • Respect
  • Their attention
  • Their feedback and criticisms
  • Open mindedness
  • Give us your sermon theme a few weeks in advance and then we’ll choose music accordingly (said in response to the above Pastor’s comment – again followed by chuckling)
  • Get to know us
  • Surprise us some morning by asking “Did you hear the new tune from Tomlin yet?”
  • Pray for me


Aren’t the differences striking?  I hope that these comments help all of you in your relationship with each other.