Note: Mike Harland is our headliner for our Renewing Worship EXPO coming August 2-3, 2019. Don’t miss out. More details at

by Mike Harland

  1. By Teaching and Preaching About Worship

The Bible has a great deal to say about worship. The meta-narrative of the text outlines God’s initiative to express His glory in creation and to redeem fallen mankind whose sole purpose is to bring glory to God.  The Pastor is leading worship when the pulpit instructs the people about engaging in worship.

Some pastors feel ill prepared to teach about music in worship because they don’t feel confident as musicians – they shouldn’t fall into that trap.  Pastors, who preach about the spiritual discipline of worship and exhort their people to sing and praise God in the congregation, are leading worship in a powerful way.

  1. By Giving Honor and Respect to the Leaders

Recently I had the privilege of enjoying dinner with a Senior Pastor and the team that leads worship in his church.  He didn’t have to be there and with his busy schedule, maybe shouldn’t have been there. The subject was about the creative ministry of those musicians. He could have easily stayed home. But, watching him relate to those leaders directly and engage in the discussion around their creative process was so affirming to them.  I could easily observe this was a ministry where the Pastor respected the ministry of the musicians and understood his responsibility to encourage and support them.

Sadly, I often see churches where the musicians are isolated from the rest of the staff. The non-verbal communication is, “You do your thing, I’ll do mine.” I’ve noticed that those tend to be churches where the congregation sits and stares at the team while they play and sing. Show me a Senior Pastor engaged on a personal level with the musicians, and I’ll show you a healthy worship ministry.

  1. By Sharing in Planning and Execution

Pastors lead worship when they invite the musicians into a shared ministry of worship leadership.  Far from the mind-set that says, “You pray, and I’ll pray, and we’ll see what God does on Sunday,” this Pastor invites the music leader into his inner circle of preaching strategy and prayer. And, this pastor does that because he understands his responsibility to lead worship in his church.

  1. By Actively Engaging in Worship Experiences

I’d say more that often than not, the Pastor doing the first three of these is already doing this last one, as well. But, let me say clearly here – this is the single most important attribute of a worshipping congregation – the Pastor understands his role as the Lead Worshipper. This is especially true when everyone knows the Pastor is not a great singer – but he sings and participates with enthusiasm anyway. To be fair, personalities come into play here. But, every pastor, no matter how they are bent in personality, can influence his congregation in worship with his own participation.

I was leading worship in chapel at LifeWay recently and saw this principle at work. As a matter of fact, this occasion inspired me to write this blog. The engagement of the LifeWay family was way above normal that day. The house was filled with the praise of God’s people – a big reason why there was a release of worship is that the whole front row of the executive leaders of LifeWay were singing and responding visibly in worship.

When Pastors worship, they lead others to worship too.

4 Ways the Pastor Leads Worship @mikeharlandlw Click To Tweet

This post was reprinted with permission. It originally appeared at