Regarding the gathering, there's a BIG difference between hiring gigging musicians and hiring a worship pastor. Most churches are (sometimes grudgingly) willing to pay for good music, but not good leadership. That's not to say you shouldn’t ever hire a band or an organist or an accompanist (there are many circumstances in which it’s a good idea), but it IS to say that it's important to have a person who understands WHY she’s on stage and is willing to do what helps the congregation respond to God (which includes during the week, not just the few hours on sunday). This this is VASTLY different than someone who is simply there for a paycheck or there to maintain the nostalgia of what we’ve always done. Worship pastors care for their congregations in very different ways than a lead pastor or youth pastor or children's pastor, and those who are good at their job do several things that the gigging musicians or the 5-hour-a-week-underpaid-college-kid-who-picks-the-songs can’t do:
Additionally, the “pastor” part of “worship pastor” means that there’s somebody thinking through what we ought to do when something big happens that impacts our congregations. We recently had a tragedy in our community when a well-known pastor and his wife were killed suddenly. Many people in our church knew them well, and the shock was noticeable. Instead of going with “plan A” (which would have been easiest), we were able to modify the service to include a time of lament and grieving that ended up being a place the Spirit moved noticeably that weekend. Our services/gatherings cannot be planned in a vacuum, but must take our culture, our congregation, and our teams in mind.
Tech ministries, worship teams, choirs, stage design teams … all of these need oversight, but will work better if they have someone who can help translate between them. When a person has the big picture (see point 1), a church can spend its time and resources more efficiently. Case in point, many churches have a properties team who makes decisions about facilities, and yet most of the time, their bandwidth for worship technology is fairly small. A worship pastor can guide decisions made by that team with the long-term picture in mind (for example, “this sound board is going to die sometime in the next five years, we should start saving now”).
The Art of Curating Worship.” Museum curators don’t create exhibits to force change on people, but rather, to invite them to engage and experience the ideas. Curating is an ongoing art form - it does not cease when the glue on the exhibit dries, but is active, subject to change as new minds seek to better experience what the exhibit has to offer. Likewise, worship pastors do not worship FOR the people, and they cannot FORCE the people to worship (if it is coerced, it’s not worship). Instead, we create a space where we can invite people to engage God together and to become the sorts of people that He’s made them to be. The art, the music, the liturgy, the scripture, the message … all are crafted together as part of creating and curating a time in which people can choose to listen and respond to the Spirit in their midst.
Worship is so much bigger than an event, and a good worship pastor will know this. But this does not change the fact that we must still gather together. If worship is simply the act of responding to God’s mercy (Romans 12:1), then a well-curated worship gathering will be a place where God’s diverse, messy, multigenerational, weird-and-wonderful people can respond to that mercy together.