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Honeymoon period for new worship leaders?

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  • Honeymoon period for new worship leaders?

    When a new worship leader comes aboard the staff of a church, does that worship leader experience a "honeymoon" or "grace period" that he/she might leverage to affect significant change?

    I'm looking at a situation where a church is interested in hiring me to lead a blended service. Their blend is about 20% contemporary and 80% traditional. I'm far from a traditional worship leader so the very thought of sticking with such a blend repels me from even considering the position.

    However they are telling me that many (perhaps most) in the congregation want to modernize. I've entertained the thought of coming in and only incrementally and slowly moving things to a more contemporary blend. But if the "honeymoon period" is real, I'm wondering if I can come in on day one and bring more significant change (within reason). After all, isn't reasonable to expect that ANY new worship leader is going be different than the last one and to expect change?

  • #2
    If there are more than a 30% gray-headed people in the congregation, you are asking for a short honeymoon if you change too much. and the 30% will be the most vocal and resistant. These people think the church belongs to them and that you have come to take their church from them.

    If it is a younger congregation, then you can implement change more quickly.

    My recommendation is to bring about change in small increments over a long period. I say this out of unhappy experience; I was told the people were ready for change. The loud ones weren't.
    Tom

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    • #3
      I would not expect to change things quickly. The honeymoon period is a real phenomenon but won't grant you that much levity. You should focus that opportunity to build strong relationships with as many as possible. You will garner their respect and earn an audience with them should you need it in the future. You will need to continue to cultivate these relationships and go above and beyond the call of duty. Attend Sr. functions and let the group that will likely give you most resistance know that you care, appreciate, and value them (this must become reality if it isn't presently). LISTEN to them and from time to time do things which they might request. Maybe at one of their functions you can offer to come lead them in worship and keeping it just voice and guitar do the old standby hyms while mixing in the chorus only section of new contemporary (How Great Thou Art/How Great Is Our God come to mind). Over time you will win over support and be in a better position to make changes.

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      • #4
        My initial thoughts-

        One, Tom is correct- the 'old guard' has a lot of influence, and much of it is legit- many of them have been faithful to the church for many years (especially financially), and feel they have a certain ownership stake in it. However, many take it to the extreme of treating it as their personal church and if it doesn't get done their way, they start pulling purse strings.

        On the other extreme, many in the the younger crowd tend to be more likely to change churches often, based on which ones they feel cater to them the most. If it doesn't meet their expectations of trendiness, etc, they are more likely to jump ship. So, many churches feel the pressure to "keep up with the Joneses" and feel the need to change (or reinvent themselves, really) to attract/keep the younger crowd. Hence, the dilemma for church leadership- do we keep it the same to avoid dissension in the old guard, and risk a 'dying' church (often literally- doing more funerals for its members than weddings), or reinvent themselves to try to attract the younger crowd (who very well may leave for the next hot 'coffee bar' trend) and risk alienating those who have supported the church (both financially and in helps ministries) throughout the good times and dry seasons...

        Another- If they are so 'ready for change', they'd do it (or at least be well into it) before you got there. Meaning, you can easily get yourself in position as the 'change guinea pig' to be thrown under the bus if things don't go well. So, I'd ask a lot of questions about how they communicate the change, how they plan to roll it out, because when things don't go well, your head will be on the chopping block.

        These kinds of things can cause church splits if not handled properly, and a majority of churches in this position who want to reinvent themselves don't handle it properly. So, I agree that it needs to be done a little at a time, rolled out consistently from leadership down, communicated well, and letting the congregation be an active part of it.

        Final thought- traditional worship services can be a challenge if you're not into it, but there is a lot to learn form traditional worship services and songs. I can tell you those old hymns still move me, and I only get to play them a couple times a year. They have a lot of power, they are anointed songs. As I have gotten more experienced in my walk with the Lord and music, I have grown a much deeper appreciation for the history of church music and the real power in many of those songs.Taking on a challenge like this can help you develop your worship leading into a deeper and more rounded experience. It can really make you a better leader. So don't run away from it, but pray if God wants you to take this on, and if so, approach it as a learning experience that will grow you in your ministry.

        Good luck, hope it works out.
        Last edited by Mike on Bass; 03-15-2012, 10:59 AM.
        If we want to go places we haven't been, we will have to do things we haven't done.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by gregrjones View Post
          When a new worship leader comes aboard the staff of a church, does that worship leader experience a "honeymoon" or "grace period" that he/she might leverage to affect significant change?

          I'm looking at a situation where a church is interested in hiring me to lead a blended service. Their blend is about 20% contemporary and 80% traditional. I'm far from a traditional worship leader so the very thought of sticking with such a blend repels me from even considering the position.

          However they are telling me that many (perhaps most) in the congregation want to modernize. I've entertained the thought of coming in and only incrementally and slowly moving things to a more contemporary blend. But if the "honeymoon period" is real, I'm wondering if I can come in on day one and bring more significant change (within reason). After all, isn't reasonable to expect that ANY new worship leader is going be different than the last one and to expect change?
          Sounds like my first church...I made it just short of two years before I was gone. Everything they told me up front sounded great, I discovered none of it was true once I arrived. Turning a traditional church around is like turning the Titanic. It takes a long time, lots of hard work, and a heck of a lot of trust, not to mention people who are actually willing to change. I've discovered that the vast majority of people (and churches) think they can handle change until things actually begin to change.

          I for one will never again take a position in a church that is wanting to transition.

          Nate
          Practical Worship

          Please Pray For My Wife

          Comment


          • #6
            Like others, I would advise caution here. My first church was a lot like the one you describe - the leadership expressed that the church was ready for a change, but after two years "on the ground", it simply wasn't true. Even a lot of those same leaders didn't really want what they were initially pushing for. I saw the same thing happen in the church I grew up in. Ultimately, the misplaced emphasis on newer styles to bring in younger people did damage to the church far beyond the worship culture.

            It's possible that you could make a gradual change, but my guess is that any sudden, significant change would result in a very short stay at that church.
            Eric Frisch
            www.ericfrisch.com

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            • #7
              Echos of "ditto" here. Don't use the honeymoon to enact a lot of change. It took me a good 2 years here before I felt I had the relational trust to begin making some shifts.
              Fred McKinnon, Pianist/Composer/Worship Leader
              blog: www.fredmckinnon.com

              Please check out my piano/instrumental music at:
              www.soundcloud.com/FredMcKinnonMusic
              www.youtube.com/c/FredMcKinnonMusic

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              • #8
                I feel for you - but -

                WARNING - the Honeymoon period is often followed by the Pushback phase - not everybody survives the latter...

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by gregrjones View Post
                  I'm looking at a situation where a church is interested in hiring me to lead a blended service. Their blend is about 20% contemporary and 80% traditional. I'm far from a traditional worship leader so the very thought of sticking with such a blend repels me from even considering the position.
                  One thing to consider is how long they've been at 20-80. And more importantly, why did the last worship leader leave? If he left over the "struggle" to get to 20-80, then that says a lot.

                  One option to consider for contemporizing is up-to-date arrangements of hymns. We have found these go over well with older folks. It's amazing how they'll respond to a 4/4 honky-tonk version of "Jesus Saves".

                  We have found that having one "general Protestant hymn" in a relatively traditional format will please older folks, and leave something familiar for folks who are "returning" to church and only remember traditional. And still leaves room for lots of more contemporary music. But don't make that one song a throw-away.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Great comments to this thread, that's why I started it!

                    I suspected the honeymoon theory to not be strong enough to ward off a more incremental approach but now that I see a consensus, I am more convinced of this.

                    Keep the great thoughts coming.

                    As for some of the questions being asked, the current worship leader is retiring. He is a traditionalist and I'm being told that there might be an undercurrent of people in the congregation that want to go more contemporary (based upon a survey that was circulated).

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                    • #11
                      One important thing to find out is how far they are willing to push in order to go more contemporary, if there is a group there like you say. If they are in love with the idea but will not be vocal about it and won't strongly support such a move through committees, attendance at functions that support the move then it that is a receipt for difficulty. If they truly want that, then THEY can "fight the battles" for you. In one of my older churches, I'd hear people say this, that, and the other about what should be happening (it wasn't always about worship). I'd tell them, "YOU need to be the one picking up the flag and running with that". It doesn't always need to be the pastor or worship leader (or any other "paid employee" to initiate and be the catalyst for difficult changes. They can be removed or minimized. Normal church members don't get fired for supporting positive change that brings about results. In difficult circumstances, they may split the church but I'd say if things get out of hand to that point, the leadership probably mishandled a thing or two. That sort of dysfunction isn't what I'm suggesting. So see if you have people on your side who are willing to do more than support you behind closed doors and between you and them. They have to support and affirm that publicly to others. It helps if they can communicate effectively the needs and see through to the heart of the issue when someone is simply being opposed to change or coming from a poor personal motivation.

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                      • #12
                        Not a receipt for difficulty (it CAN be tax-deductible) but RECIPE.

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                        • #13
                          I would agree with most of what had been said above. I was a part of the worship leadership at a very large church that was doing many things well, but there were certain "sacred cows" that they would never let go of.

                          It's similar to a marriage- if you would not be okay with the other party remaining "as-is" for your life together, you are being unfair to them and not making a wise choice. You will end up frustrated, because we can't make people change.

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                          • #14
                            But on the other hand, perhaps God may be using the change to prod some to give up their 'sacred cows' - things and attitudes that they are putting above their relationship with God.

                            Of course the instigator of such change needs to be doing this with the right motive, not just self-interest....

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                            • #15
                              Yummm!!! Sacred cows make GOOD hamburgers!

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