How to Make the Pastor / Worship Pastor Relationship Work, Part 1

Jason Hatley

Recently on a phone call with my Tele-Coaching network one of the worship leaders in our network began to ask my thoughts on how to overcome what has become (I think) a CENTRAL issue for Worship Leaders serving in the local church.

It has nothing to do with where you find new music, or even how to grow your team.

It’s the challenge of how to work effectively with your pastor to plan your worship services.

After completing a session on some proven strategies to plan worship services months (even a year) in advance through a great tool called the One Year Preaching Calendar, my friend asked a question that many worship leaders struggle with. “This is great. It would be a huge help to our planning process, BUT I don’t know if my pastor will want to plan in advance like this.”

By the way, the shoe fits the other foot as well. Pastors who are working hard to keep their teams planned ahead and it’s the worship pastor who just can’t find the time or organization to lead the effort for advanced planning and seems to fall behind.

The BIG issue behind this is really not as much the planning itself, but the relationship between the Pastor and Worship Pastor. And that’s what I have found through coaching nearly 200 worship pastors personally and training thousands of others, is the true hard work of advanced planning.

As the Worship Pastors, we invest a tremendous amount of my time in creating the weekly worship experiences. But we don’t accomplish this alone. In fact, if we are serious about our worship services being the very best that they can be every week, we can’t do this alone.

It takes a team effort. That team is founded on the Pastor / Worship Pastor relationship.

Over the next few weeks I will be talking about how the relationship between Pastor and Worship Pastor is a central issue in planning effective worship services, and I will teach you the four steps to maximizing this relationship, and your worship service planning.

Before we can get started on the relationship, we need to take a moment to talk about the planning.

I believe that advance planning honors God. So much so that my lead Pastor Nelson and I have not only co-authored resources like Planning Worship Services for Life Transformation, but we have also co-authored a book coming out in October on this very topic entitled, “Engage: A Guide to Creating Life-Transforming Worship Services” (available now for pre-order).

Many Pastors and Worship Pastors think that advance worship planning is a good idea if you get around to it, or if it works in your culture.

I believe that advance worship planning is much more. I believe it’s actually an act of worship.

It is God-honoring when we decide to bathe an upcoming service in prayer for it’s preparation. When we meet to discuss ways that we can communicate the timeless truths of God’s word in a timely fashion. When we commit to give ourselves and our teams the time needed to prepare with excellence the elements for the service.

No doubt about it – when we create a structure that allows for advance planning we are trusting God to speak to us far enough in advance for us to listen and obey, rather than leaving all the details to the last minute and scurrying about finding a way to just get it done.

Once we understand the spiritual (and practical) significance of working together to plan worship services weeks, months, even a year in advance, only then can we really start to go to work on this very important relationship.

So as I wrap up this first post, let’s get the ball rolling on this topic by defining worship planning.

Worship Planning Defined: the process by which the Pastor and Worship Pastor work together to design worship services that are relevant, creative, God-honoring and transformational.

There are three important distinctives in this definition.

1. …Pastor and Worship Pastor work together – Do you have a scheduled time for meeting with your pastor or worship pastor to plan, implement and evaluate your worship services?

2. …design worship services – Do you have a process for worship planning that can empower you to work with your Pastor / Worship Pastor to plan 6 months to a year out?

3. …relevant, creative, God-honoring and transformational. – At The Journey these words describe our values for worship services. What are your values for planning worship services?

Many churches aspire to great ideals in worship planning, but settle for “just getting through Sunday” because they don’t have a system to keep them from looking at the Sunday service with a week-to-week mindset.

By the end of this series, you will have some insights and systems that will help you maximize the Pastor / Worship Pastor relationship, and ultimately help you plan more effective worship services.
Your partner in ministry,


PS – You can create life transforamtional worship services EVERY Sunday with the Planning Worship Services for Life Transformation Workshop.

In this powerful, six hour workshop, my Lead Pastor Nelson Searcy and I will teach you the proven principles and practices that have made the Journey Church in NYC one of the most innovative and effective churches in America.

In this resource you will learn:

  • How to maximize the worship time you have each weekend
  • How the pastor and worship leader can effectively work together
  • How to plan dynamic and effective worship orders
  • How to use media, drama and testimony that captures the heart of your people
  • How to create a healthy and focused team environment
  • How to use feedback that ”builds up” and makes every service better
  • How to plan ahead so you can break the Sunday to Sunday tyranny
  • How to build all the elements of the service around the message
  • And much more!

This 6-hour workshop will teach you proven principles and practices to increase your worship planning effectiveness.

Recorded LIVE, Planning Worship Services for Life Transformation Workshop also includes more than 15 additional resource files, including:

  • Fill in the blank workshop notesimg
  • Sample worship orders
  • Sample band notes
  • Sample message transcript
  • Sample planning notes, calendars and assignments
  • Sample ideas and resources
  • And much more!

This is a nuts and bolts resource that will teach you to make the most of your weekly worship times through effective, God honoring planning.

And if you aren’t absolutely satisfied with this resource (or any of my resources for that matter) simply return your product within 365 days for a prompt and courteous refund.
Immediately download the complete mp3 audio files and full resources and SAVE $100.00!


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TUESDAY MORNING INSIGHTS is Jason Hatley’s free weekly training resource specifically designed to provide you as a worship leader with proven principles, tips and practices to help you lead a healthy and thriving Worship Arts Team.

About Jason Hatley and Worship Leader Insights

Jason HatleyIn 2002, Jason Hatley helped launch The Journey Church in New York City, directing the programming of their worship services. He serves as the Pastor of Worship Arts and built from scratch The Journey’s worship arts team, a group of over 200 artists and technicians who develop and implement the creative and technical elements at weekly Sunday services. The Journey has been recognized as one of Outreach Magazines fastest growing and most creative churches.

Jason has been a worship leader since 1996. He invests in Worship Pastors around the country through interactive coaching networks and worship planning resources. He has been a featured break-out speaker at the Willow Creek Arts Conference, The Purpose Drive Worship Conference, as well as seminars around the country. He has a B.M. in Sacred Music Performance from Appalachian State University.

Jason and his family currently live in Boca Raton, FL where he serves as the Pastor of Worship Arts at The Journey’s newest campus in South Florida.