Don’t Surprise Your Pastor

Every pastor is different.

Some want to be very involved in the music portion of the service. They want to help choose the songs, they express their opinion on what songs they do and do not like, and they expect/facilitate regular communication with their music leaders.

But others don’t want to involved much at all. They let their music leaders pick the songs, they don’t express an opinion unless you ask them, and they don’t expect/facilitate any kind of regular communication with their music leaders.

In the first case (the involved pastor), you have to learn how to receive regular feedback from someone who you have no choice but to submit to at the end of the day. This can be tricky depending on their personality and management style.

In the second case (the uninvolved pastor), you have to learn to exist sort of like an island, but you’re also never quite sure if your pastor is happy with what you’re doing or not. And you usually will only hear from him when he’s not happy.

Some pastors are a little of both. They’re involved, but also a bit uninvolved, and your job as their music leader is to try to read their minds half of the time, while also accommodating their wishes and requests when they make them known.

But while every pastor is different, I can guarantee you that in one respect, every pastor is the same. They don’t like being surprised on Sunday morning.

Think about all the hundreds of things on their minds, not the least of which is the sermon they have to deliver. They are having to balance so many different demands, needs, dynamics, personalities, politics, and expectations, while also attempting some sort of mental and spiritual focus in order to execute all of the different Sunday morning responsibilities.

The last thing they need is for their music leader to try to sneak something past them, or do something that shocks them, or do something that’s totally different from what people are used to, or do something that is sure to result in several emails in his (and your) inbox that afternoon.

I’ve learned this lesson the hard way, by the way. I offer it to you for free.

Take the time – ahead of time – to communicate with your pastor anything he needs to know. I put these things in a “heads up” category for my pastor. It can be anything. I’m using a new drummer and he might be a little loud. I’m doing a different arrangement of this hymn and it might feel strange at first but it will work, I think. I’m going to do two songs before the welcome this week, not one. I’m going to have the congregation read a Psalm during this song. Whatever. Anything that might catch him by surprise.

And then give him the opportunity to give feedback. Ask him for it. Yes, you’re opening yourself up to have to make a change. That’s the point.

So, whether your pastor is involved or uninvolved, do yourself, your congregation, and your pastor a favor and keep him in the loop. I promise you your pastor will appreciate it.

2 thoughts on “Don’t Surprise Your Pastor”

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