Interview with Paul Baloche

Paul Baloche1

What makes for a healthy relationship between pastor and worship leader?
I’ve been at my church for twenty-three years and we’ve had four senior pastors in that time. Each one has had different temperament, strengths and challenges and with each of them I felt one of my primary roles was to be someone a pastor could bounce ideas off of, vent negative emotions or doubts and process their own feelings. I didn’t have to be best friends with them necessarily, but I respected them all and wanted to make myself available in whatever way I could. I also made sure I found good things about their pastoring and teaching and passed those along. I tried to be intentional about being an encourager without being just a flatterer.

Is the relationship between a pastor and a worship leader primarily hierarchal?
I try not to be influenced by a pastor’s authority or by my place on the flow chart but more by relationship. Pastors are just like anyone else: they need to feel love and acceptance.  By the same token, as a worship leader you need to be trusted and you have to earn that trust. A pastor needs to feel that you’re not insecure or out to prove anything and that leads to more trust. I make it a point to go to my pastor at least once a month and asking how he feels about what I’m doing.

How important is it for a pastor and worship leader to plan services together?
I try to find out what the theme of the services will be in the next weeks or months so I can think about what music would be appropriate. But I don’t panic if that doesn’t always happen. There’s value in planning, but we need to make room for what God wants to do as well. Ideally, you want people to have had both a right brain and left brain experience when they leave church.

What are some of the ways to improve communication between a pastor and a worship leader?
The reality is, some pastors will always view the worship as just a warm up to the message. For the worship leader, that requires being patient and prayerful as well as having the determination to build a relationship with your pastor over time to be able to share your heart and your vision. Invite your senior pastor to rehearsal on occasion and have him speak into the worship team. Invite him to a worship conference to experience the true potential for authentic worship. He might be all about the Greek and Hebrew and that’s as it should be. But it’s also true that we don’t want to just read about God, we want to experience His presence. I would also suggest auditioning new material for the pastor before introducing it into the service. Show him the lyric sheet and play it for him. Keeping the pastor in the loop shows them you value their opinion.

What does a healthy relationship between a pastor and a worship leader look like?
Let’s face it. If you can’t honor and respect your pastor then you probably need to look for somewhere else to serve. But if there is congruence and a high regard between the pastor and the worship leader, then that comes across to the congregation. It’s like children at a dinner table. If things are cool between mom and dad then the kids feel secure and settled. It’s one big happy family.

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