The Hidden Reason Churches Nail Worship

It’s you. You’re the reason—hidden in plain sight. I’m writing to you, pastor. The hidden reason churches nail worship is because the pastor leads out in worship.

Most churches will only worship to the level of their pastors. If you’re the stoic stander, your church will be full of Sunday morning totems. If you raise your hands, then people in the church will follow your lead. When pastors immerse themselves in worship, churches do the same.

Stop blaming your worship pastor for the lack of energy, stop complaining about the musicianship, and stop thinking, if only we could change the music style. Just worship. Dig into it. Sing loudly to the glory of God.

Stand in the front of the worship space and let it out. Lift your arms in surrender. Spontaneously kneel at the altar in passionate prayer. Step into the pulpit short of breath from singing.

You lead with evangelism. You lead with vision. You lead with theology. You lead with shepherding. You lead with prayer. You also lead with worship. Pastor, if you’re not worshiping well, if your soul is not poured out weekly, why would you expect the same of your church?

    • Evangelistic churches have evangelistic pastors.
    • Prayerful churches have prayerful pastors.
    • Passionate churches have passionate pastors.
    • Theologically sound churches have theologically sound pastors.
    • Joyful churches have joyful pastors.

Why would worship be any different?

The hidden reason churches nail worship is you.

You’re the visible prompt. People are watching how you worship. They are observing what you do. They are learning from you during the music as much as during the sermon.

Are you in it? Your job isn’t to wait through the other elements of the service for your time to preach. The lead pastor is also the lead worshiper. You must teach by example. Put your notes down and lift your voice. The best preparation for your soul is to join the congregational singing of the saints.

If you’re only preparing sermons and not preparing for worship, then you’re fulfilling just half your responsibility on Sunday mornings.

The hidden reason churches nail worship is right there in plain sight.

It’s you.

Posted on May 13, 2024

As President of Church Answers, Sam Rainer wears many hats. From podcast co-host to full-time Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Church, Sam’s heart for ministry and revitalization are evident in all he does.
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  • Love this! I am a long-time worship pastor, and I recently visited the Belonging Co. church in Nashville, TN. This blog article reminded me of something I witnessed there. Kari Jobe was the best worship leader there, but she never stepped foot on the stage or sang into a mic. Her expression of worship was so sincere and caught my eye as Cody and the worship band poured their heartfelt worship onto Christ. Thanks for this excellent reminder for pastors to lead worshipfully. I just read Autopsy of a Deceased Church, which brought me to this website and blog for the first time. I’m a big fan of the book.

  • Nailed it Sam, as usual. My belief is, the reason we are called Pastors is because we are called to shepherd the flock God has entrusted to our care. We are called to lead by example, to be an example for them to follow; and you’re right, they will do as they see the Pastor doing. How can we expect the flock to do something we’re not willing to do ourselves?
    Chris Tomlin and Darren Whitehead co-authored an excellent book titled “Holy Roar: 7 Words That Will Change The Way You Worship”; it’s an excellent read, including for us Pastors.
    Thank you for your excellent leadership, wisdom, and encouragement; it is greatly appreciated.
    Yours in Christ’s service,
    Pastor Brian Hornibrook
    Queensway Free Methodist Church
    Niagara Falls, Ontario. Canada

    • Sam Rainer says on

      Much appreciated Brian!

      • Troy wilkinson says on

        I think I’m in the minority here because I didn’t agree with your overall take. I do agree pastors should set examples in worship, but you’ve reduced worship down to congregational singing. I also agree that pastors are being watched as examples, but worship shouldn’t be reduced down to mere external postures. Worship is produced by the Holy Spirit, who enflames a man’s heart to act in “spirit and truth,” as you know. Simply defining worship to a visible posture in congregational singing is to miss worship altogether. Furthermore, to raise hands or sing loudly or any other posture does not necessarily mean worship is taking place. If a man’s heart is not enflamed by the Spirit’, he cannot rightfully worship, regardless of what externals he employs. I’m sorry Sam, I feel this article misses the point of what worship is and where it originates.

  • Larry Webb says on

    Amen to that. Well said! Again I say Amen!

  • Bob Myers says on

    I once served a church where the pastor would be stay in the lobby, greeting latecomers and reinforcing their bad behavior, until it was time for him to preach. (Music conflict was a very real issue in the congregation at the time.) He would also complain every week that he didn’t have enough time to deliver his forty minute sermon. One week, the worship set was much shorter (I was trying to help), but he didn’t show up on the platform for about a minute. The XP excoriated me. Don’t know how I lasted nearly four years there. They couldn’t find a suitable replacement that would last more than a year in the music/worship role for over ten years.

    Apologies for my ranting reflection. There are a lot of wounded worship pastors who work with senior pastors who really don’t get it. Every worship pastor who reads this will absolutely love you for posting this, Sam. It is absolutely true and a good reminder for me, now serving in the preaching role for over ten years.


    • Sam Rainer says on

      And, thank you, Bob! I’m blessed to have an amazing worship pastor. He’s one of my best friends and like a brother to me.

      • Bob Myers says on

        You are both very blessed. Don’t know that I ever had that privilege. I have a good growing relationship with my music people in the transitional role I am now filling.

        There is often a lot of tension between the people who fill those roles. Doesn’t CA have a “worship guru?” I think so – can’t recall his name. Have him write a blog about nurturing a good relationship between preacher and worship leader. There are a lot of similarities between the two but also competing concerns and/or orientations.

      • Sam Rainer says on

        Yes, Mike Harland is THE worship guru! We even have a worship certification available that he teaches: