I Thought You Would Want to Know

This is a guest post from Dr. Sam Hamstra:

I recently had the privilege of hanging out with about 20 dedicated volunteers who serve the worship ministry of their congregation, one that worships nearly 1,000 people each week. Their worship pastor had just moved on to a new church and, before launching a search for a new one, we thought it best to have a conversation with those most involved in the ministry.  

I asked the group to list essential qualities or characteristics for their new worship pastor. What I learned was remarkable and I thought you would want to know what they said. Here’s some bullet points about the aspirational qualities they hope will characterize their next worship pastor:

  • A person who has been gifted and called by God
  • A humble person who loves God
  • Someone who will be patient with us (after all, we are amateurs)
  • A pastor who has a heart for and cares for people
  • Someone with experience leading worship
  • A person willing to walk alongside us as a coach to train us
  • An organized person who leads a good rehearsal
  • A mature and maturing leader
  • A shepherd who disciples us
  • A stable and settled person
  • Someone who enjoys hanging out with people
  • If married, enjoys a great marriage

That is a remarkable list, but notice what is missing: There is no mention of musicianship. No request for a worship pastor with ʺgreat chopsʺ or with recordings or who has written original music or with great skill on the guitar or keys. While each of those attributes are noteworthy and have their place, they were not mentioned in this conversation. And there is no mention of external appearance. No request for a worship leader who has a certain look or wears a certain types of jeans or who has ʺnice ink.ʺ

This congregation—one that happens to be trending younger and experiencing significant numerical growth—has prioritized the internal qualities of the worship pastor. This congregation is praying for a faithful follower of Jesus Christ who loves both the Lord and His people, church, a person of spiritual depth and emotional health, a shepherd who enjoys walking alongside volunteers as disciples, an experienced and mature leader. 

Maybe this congregation is unique, but I think not—and I hope not. Musicianship is a great attribute for a worship pastor, but no replacement for character.


Dr. Sam Hamstra, Jr., Director of the Master of Arts in Worship degree program at Northern Seminary (Lombard, IL) and founder of ChapterNext, a church consultancy.