Pastoral Worship

In an earlier time, a pastor caring for his flock, engaging in the activities related to the cure of souls meant, in great part, leading them in worship.  There is much truth to the Jesuit liturgical scholar Jungmann’s sweeping statement that “for centuries, the liturgy, actively celebrated, has been the most important form for pastoral care.” 

—William Willimon, Worship as Pastoral Care, 35


The Pastor and Worship (9)


  1. Be a private worshiper.
  2. Sing, pray and preach out of a walk of worship.
  3. Study worship.
  4. Preach on worship.
  5. Model worship publicly.
  6. Lead worship.
  7. Handle the text reverently and responsively in sermon preparation.
  8. Preach as an act of worship.
  9. Preach as an invitation to worship.

—Ron Man, “The Pastor and Worship,” Worship Notes 11.2 (February 2016)

The Pastor and Worship (8)

Protestant seminaries must, I think, confess considerable guilt. They have done little to make the average pastor knowledgeable about the history, theologies, or sociological dimensions of worship. Perhaps the trouble lies a bit farther upstream: in the graduate schools that train seminary professors, schools that have failed to train specialists in this field. The Church’s academic community has simply failed to prepare ministers for a major responsibility the Church now demands of them.

—James F. White, Christian Worship in North America, A Retrospective: 1955-1995, 139

The Pastor and Worship (7)

The most important thing a pastor does is stand in a pulpit every Sunday and say, “Let us worship God.” If that ceases to be the primary thing I do in terms of my energy, my imagination, and the way I structure my life, then I no longer function as a pastor. I pick up some other identity.

I cannot fail to call the congregation to worship God, to listen to his Word, to offer themselves to God.  Worship becomes a place where we have our lives redefined for us.

—Eugene Peterson, “The Business Of Making Saints,” Leadership Spring 1997, 22

The Pastor and Worship (5)

As the church goes about the business of worship, resistance is sure to crop up.… If worship is looked upon as a problem by the pastor, Dittes says it is usually analyzed by the minister in one of two ways:

  1. The form of worship must be changed in order to make it more suitably matched to the needs of the people.
  2. The people must be changed and educated in the correct purpose, traditions, and meanings of worship.

Most liturgical reform and liturgical education begin from one of these two assumptions.  To work from the first assumption often means that the pastor stoops to the level of the resistance, stops leading worship, and starts planning worship, becoming a rearranger of worship, tinkering with the liturgy, experimenting with something new, anxiously checking out the people to see if they like this or that worship style better than the ones before. If the second assumption is followed, the pastor moves from worship leader to worship educator. He or she constantly coaxes, invites, teaches, and tells about worship, assuming that if he or she can just get the people prepared, then they will at last be ready to worship.

—William Willimon, Worship as Pastoral Care, 84

The Pastor and Worship (4)

Every pastor should see the church’s corporate worship life as an important part of his spiritual oversight of the flock. The pastor has the responsibility of publicly cherishing the glory of God and expounding it and inviting others to share in the wonder of wholehearted, and whole-life, worship. Every pastor should have this ultimate vertical purpose to his ministry: a purpose of seeking to see the glory of God reflected in the lives of his people; a praying and striving towards a preoccupation with God, a loving of Him with all the soul, heart, mind, and strength, on his own part as well as that of his congregation; a private and public cherishing of him in lives of worship. Ultimately ministry is the work of seeking, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to build more and better worshipers of God.

—Ron Man