What Does a Director of Worship Do?

June 10, 2015 | Written by Nick Thacker

soundboardIn my last post, I mentioned that while we don’t have a “Worship Pastor,” we still have the need for what a Worship Pastor provides.

So what, exactly, are those needs?

They vary by church of course, but generally a Worship Arts Pastor, a Director of Worship, or Worship Pastor is in charge of:

  1. Vision: Who’s casting vision? What is “worship” at Pulpit Rock?
  2. Leadership: Who will lead us in song every week? Who will lead them? How are we working to shepherd our teams and congregation?
  3. Pastoral Care: Are we providing pastoral care to our worship team? To our congregation?
  4. Music Directorship: How do we decide what songs to sing, or how to play them? How are we coaching and training our teams toward excellence?
  5. Service Planning: What’s happening in our services? When? Who is doing what?
  6. Technical Direction: What is the long-term plan for the technical aspects of ministry? What systems do we need to run a Sunday service?

I work closely with Pastor Thomas to ensure that all of these crucial roles are filled. We’ve split the hats to wear between us, and we’re constantly working on systems to improve these roles.

So then what do you do?

Specifically, here’s what I am responsible for at PRC:

Vision

Worship at Pulpit Rock needs vision, just like any other organization or entity. Rather than “cast the vision” (i.e. “make it up on my own”), this vision-casting process has been a team effort over the past two years. We’ve have all-team meetings once a month, potlucks and parties throughout the year, and fellowship time together before, during, and after Sunday services.

These team times are wonderful opportunities to determine the collective vision for where we want PRC to go and what we want PRC Worship to look like. One of the words Thomas uses to prepare every sermon is the word “helpful.” We’ve also adopted this word for our team, as in: “is what we’re doing helpful?

That question has led us to add a hymn to every set, have a specific amount of new songs we’d like to introduce, and always strive to play at least two songs per week that are “familiar.”

As we continue to grow and work together, the needs of the church and of the Church will become more evident in our vision, and more purposeful in our implementation of that vision.

Leadership

The “L”-word is terrifying to me, but it’s a necessary role. While I learn how to lead and grow leaders, Thomas has stepped in whenever needed to provide direction and advice. As I grow and develop as a leader, Thomas will be there to help and mentor me. Likewise, I am working to develop systems (different worship leaders each week, volunteer-based tech teams) that allow me to lead others and help grow their own skills and strengths.

Pastoral Care

Anything from individual, one-on-one prayer to larger service, “pastoral care” is one of those terms that we’re all familiar with, yet have a hard time actually defining. I believe “care” isn’t a position or a job to do; it’s an agreement between ourselves and God that we will take on the responsibility to helping to care for His creation.

Whenever we gather together as a team or worship band, we’ve taken a few minutes to specifically pray for and listen to one another. Even though we have a worship service to put together, each and every one of us comes with needs, baggage, and heartache, as well as reasons to praise God, celebrate, and rejoice. It is my hope that anyone joining us at any point will find a comfortable and caring atmosphere.

Musical Direction

One of the most technical roles I am responsible for, the role of “Music Director” includes preparing set lists with the worship leaders, working on a “song implementation plan” (we call it SongCycle), and working with the bands to put together our Sunday set.

It’s a combination of music theory (what does everyone need to play?), orchestration (when does everyone need to play it?), and band director (how are we communicating what we’re playing?), and it’s one of the most difficult roles in the church (and also the most fun!).

Service Planning

Thomas and I have a standing weekly meeting during which we discuss the “4 Ms” of the previous week’s service:

  • Music. How did the music sound? Did the transitions, speaking moments, and other musical segments “work” well?
  • Message. Was the message too long? Off-topic? Did it help people? Did it fit with the series?
  • Moment. What was the “high point” or best moment of the service?
  • Mess-up. What happened that we should work on? What needs to improve?

During the week, my job is to use the songs the worship leaders and I have chosen, create “loops” (backing tracks and click tracks) for some/all of them, and create arrangements that are clear, easy to understand, and work toward the common goal of helping lead our church into worship. Thursday is the “big day:” I get to the office around 9-10am, work through the day on the Sunday service flow chart,  putting the service “pieces” together (announcements, Call to Worship, songs, message, any media elements like video), and communicating with the staff involved for that week’s service. I usually work through dinner, before rehearsal starts at 7pm, then leave after between 8:30-9pm.

Technical Direction

There’s a category that every church music director or worship pastor does that I’m calling “everything else.” Because that doesn’t sound as cool, I’ll also refer to it as “Technical Direction.”

Anything that doesn’t fall into the above categories, yet still happens during a Sunday service, is part of my job. That includes making sure we have proper technology systems (sound board, cameras, video system, presentation software, etc.), and trained volunteers to run them. It also includes stage decoration, auditorium “look and feel,” and working with Thomas to create a helpful and moving worship service from top to bottom.

I’ve been doing this or a similar job in churches for ten years, and there’s a reason: I absolutely love it. I love working with and helping volunteers succeed, challenging musicians to excellence, and creating environments and atmospheres that look great and allow us to remove distractions from Sunday worship.

Okay. That makes sense.

Good. Oh and if you ever have a question or just want to chat, my door is open (unless it’s closed, but you can always knock!).


Interested in joining our worship team or tech team? Sweet! Shoot me an email.

 

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