What Does A Full-Time Worship Pastor Do?

People often don’t understand what goes into their Sunday morning worship each week. What does a full-time worship pastor do the rest of the week? I was recently asked to describe my weekly schedule. Here is what works for me.

I normally work at the church three days a week and at home for three days. I usually write detailed charts for the band and vocals which can also include string and brass parts, so I spend a good 6-10 hours per week charting music. I am also an early riser so I usually start at 5 AM. I know that doesn’t work for most music guys but I would love to see how this schedule lines up with other worship pastors.

Monday: 5 AM-3 PM – Home (7-8 hours)
Normal activities include: Bible Reading, prayer, chart writing, reading, recruiting & scheduling musicians (email, texting and PlanningCenter.com), downloading and editing tracks & music charts, researching new songs and sending out a detailed email for that week’s rehearsal.

Tuesday: 5 AM – 7:30 – Home
8:30 AM – 3 PM Church (7-8 hours)
Normal activities include: Bible reading, prayer, reading, preparation, set-up and leading worship at mid-week church services, administration (paying bills), staff meeting and staff prayer.

Wednesday: 5 AM – 3 PM – Home (7-8 hours)
Normal activities include: Bible reading, prayer, song & lyric writing, personal worship, practising for Thursday rehearsal, repair and upgrade of church equipment, scheduling musicians, reviewing long-term schedules and events, reading, chart writing, contacting next week’s worship leader and editing the worship list.

Thursday: 5 AM – 11 AM – Home
1 PM – 9:30 PM Church (9-11 hours)
Normal activities include: Bible reading, prayer, review of all vocal and instrumental parts for evening rehearsal, personal rehearsal, worship auditions, staff report, meeting with the lead pastor, editing lyrics with the media person, reviewing the sound and set-up with the soundman, clean-up & set-up of the stage for rehearsal, auditions, evening rehearsal and training musicians, singers and worship leaders.

Friday: 7 AM – 9 AM – Home
11 AM – 3 PM (4-5 hours)
Normal activities include: Bible reading, prayer, reading, memorizing music for Sunday, finalizing songs and musicians for the following week and start writing charts for next week.

Saturday: Day off 
Normal activities: Bible reading, prayer, personal worship with the songs for Sunday.

Sunday: 5 AM – 6:30 AM – Home
7 AM – 2 PM – Church
5:30 PM – 8 PM – Church (10-12 hours)
Normal activities: Bible reading, prayer, set-up and practice with musicians, three Sunday services, social time with musicians & congregational members, review of services with worship leaders and musicians.

Total Hours – Church & Home: (46-54 hours)

Other activities which happen periodically include: Preparation for speaking and writing, special music and scripts for Christmas, Easter, and special events. Organizing and leading music for evenings of prayer and other meetings. Attending conferences. Going for coffee/meals with various worship team, congregants & pastoral members. Meeting with regional worship leaders. Counselling. Teaching other worship pastors through webinars and blogging. Recording.

Question: Music pastors: what does your schedule look like?

Check out my new book.. “Leading Worship ~ Notes from a Grand Adventure available in Kindle or Soft Cover Editions.  This is a great gift for the musician or worshipper in your life.

About Mark Cole

Jesus follower, Husband, Father, Worship Leader, Writer, Pastor, Church Consultant, Founding Arranger for Praisecharts.com, squash & tennis player, blogger & outdoor enthusiast.. (biking, hiking, skiing). Twitter: @MarkMCole Facebook: mmcole

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9 Responses to What Does A Full-Time Worship Pastor Do?

  1. Tim hatch says:

    You don’t have a scheduled day off??
    You definetly need to change that.

    • Mark Cole says:

      Saturday is my actual day off (although occasionally it will be Friday).. but I still try to sing and worship thru the songs for Sunday so they are fresh in my mind.

  2. Ruth Winters says:

    Thank you for this. It will help me to help those around me understand the unique demands of this job. Also the amazing amount of time spent working in off hours.

  3. Beverly says:

    I lead one evening worship service at my church, as a volunteer. I have one guitar player and two other singers that serve with me. We have a paid worship leader who is responsible for Sunday mornings and Wednesday night worship. I’d say I spend a couple of hours a day working on set lists, sequence, rehearsal, emailing the team and sound person and talking to the Pastor who brings the message. I enjoy serving in this area. I’m amazed how much time it takes just for this one service and a few team members. I know our worship leader has a schedule similar to yours. He also helps with the youth.

  4. Though a parsonage is not a really common thing anymore, my family gets to live on site at the church campus, so in many people’s minds there’s a great deal of flexibility in when I’m “on” versus when I’m “off”. I’m physically there, so I must be available, right? Hard to make that distinction when not everyone has your schedule memorized, but that’s one of the challenges of living in a parsonage that we embrace. It means that at any given moment, someone can show up on site and need assistance with something that may have nothing to do with my direct responsibilities, but I’m the one that’s there… so I’m the one who gets to lend help!
    It’s a good trade off for the commute.

    I write the song chart arrangements for our worship ministry team which require routine refining and updating on Planning Center, and just that activity alone can take a good 10 hours of the week to accomplish. Answering emails and fielding phone calls takes multiple hours each day, aside from the constant list of things that need to be fixed, adjusted, or accomplished. Planned counseling meetings often take multiple hours of a day. Walk-in meetings often supersede the previously planned schedule for the day, and while they’re always fruitful and productive, the other things that had to be temporarily put off to the side still need to get done, which can add hours to each day. Some days that I plan to be done at 5pm or 6pm require that I return to work in the evening for several more hours just to stay on track for the rest of the week.

    Here’s what my typical schedule looks like:

    Monday: 9am – 5pm 8hrs
    Normal activities include:
    Admin work, meetings, work from home on computer (emails, scheduling, song arrangements, updates, communication, short term planning for the coming week). Occasional evening meetings. Service recording review, editing & export to be uploaded to podcast.

    Tuesday: 9am – 6pm 9hrs
    Normal activities include:
    Spiritual devotion & preparation time, Bible study, office admin work, staff meetings, tech prep & repair & setup, meetings with church members, phone calls, long term planning & event
    preparation, social media moderation

    Wednesday: 9am – 10pm 13hrs
    Normal activities include:
    Tech prep in sanctuary, equipment maintenance & repair, office meetings, prep for rehearsal, print music & collate binders, set stage, meetings with ministry team members, rehearsal, meeting with team members after rehearsal

    Thursday: 9am – 6pm 9hrs
    Normal activities include:
    Counseling meetings with church members, tech work as needed, additional musical prep time, off site supply runs

    Friday: off
    Normal activities include:
    occasional prep for special events
    Family chores, car repairs, home repairs, honey-do list, personal to-do list

    Saturday: off
    Normal activities include:
    occasional special events
    Family fun or relaxing time

    Normal activities include:
    Main service 7am – 1:00pm 6hrs
    Evening service 6pm – 9pm 3hrs

    Varying Sunday afternoon/evening meetings 3hrs

    Total hours: 45 – 51hrs (normal week)

    Irregular work hours: (not included in normal routine)
    Most nights from 10pm til 12am: more compluter admin work, email response, social media moderation
    Morning/night crisis counseling as needed
    Sunday afternoon/night meetings & counseling as needed
    Weeknight meetings, workshops, special events as needed
    Hospital visits – as needed
    Special event prep (Christmas, Halloween, etc) – usually many extra hours

  5. Lori says:

    Other periodic things include attending conferences, meeting and praying with regional worship leaders, continuing education, listening parties with team over new music and albums, training younger musicians, upgrading programs/equipment and training tech members on it, staff regional luncheons, choosing discipleship material to lead team trough, and many more. However, my schedule is fairly similar to what you have excluding the Sunday evening service.

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