Music Director or Worship Leader?

Bethlehem Praise Team

Dear Music Director:

Do you feel like you’re on the fringe of what God is doing in church?  Do you feel stuck in-between two identities, “music director” and “worship leader” as your church wanes with the times?  Directing music and leading worship are two distinct job descriptions that leave some of us feeling awkward with one foot in one role and another foot in the other.  Some churches have done away with choirs altogether, in exchange for a smaller, more “professional” group of Nominingue Church Choirmusicians who “lead the congregation in worship.”

This setup may lead congregational members to feel isolated, intimidated and uninvited to participate in the music program.  Some pastors are afraid to do away with the choir altogether for that very reason, in fear of cracking the church’s foundation.  Directing a traditional church choir is a completely different ballgame than leading worship as a part of a praise team.  For those of us who do not have the luxury of starting from scratch, the solution that I’ve found to work is turning the traditional church choir into a hybrid church choir with a praise team feel.

A modern Western worship team leading a contem...
A modern Western worship team leading a contemporary worship session. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a church, that is building on existing habits formed many tree rings back, it may require some time and hard work to form your new identity, taking care to replace the old habits with new ones that are centered on new objectives.  Take note, that OLD habits aren’t necessarily BAD habits and NEW habits aren’t necessarily GOOD ones.

Unfortunately, most of the resources available to churches today are in an EITHER/OR format.  Either they cater strictly to contemporary churches who already have the “praise and worship” bit down, OR they cater to churches who are still happy learning the traditionally arranged anthems, having not yet made the transition to a more “contemporary” service.

Most church music producers/publishers take a song that is traditional and force it into being contemporary by adding a drum track to the song demo, happily cranking out a few chord charts for band members.  But this still does not fully support the “hybrid praise & worship choir” approach.

Publishers like Word Music and LifeWay (Worship) might beg to differ, saying that they have created exclusive branches of their business for churches just like ours, for music directors just like you, who feel stuck between two conflicting identities in leading worship and directing music.  But I beg to differ.  On this site (, I will outline several needs that I’d like to petition Church Music Publishers to address.  I’ll also share ways that our church music department is taking a hybrid approach to our music program as a whole.

Blessings, ~Your Fellow Church Music Director

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