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Tone-deaf worship leader?!

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  • Tone-deaf worship leader?!

    Hello all. I'm new to this site. I'm just looking for some professional advice. I'm part of the worship team at a small church. Last year, our worship pastor stepped down. I wasn't available to step up at the time and we didn't have a backup, so our drummer stepped up. Which was nice of him to take over and all.. but he's tone deaf. Completely tone deaf.
    I got back on the worship team a few months after this change happened, and i have tried my best to help him. I've led worship for over ten years at another church and i was in choir for a few years as well.
    But the problem is, he thinks he's amazing. He thinks he sounds great. He doesn't realize how off-tempo, off-key, off-beat, off-everything he sounds! And the attendance at our already small church has declined greatly since he started playing.
    Our head pastor is a phenomenal speaker and that's part of the reason I love my church. And our pastor know this guy can't play or sing. But i think he's worried about hurt feelings or something and won't say anything.
    And I've tried so hard to encourage him and help him to sound better.. but he never gets better. The Christian in me wants to continue to try to make the best of a bad situation. The musician in me wants to tell him he's horrible and ask him to step down. Worship is a critical part of the church experience in my opinion. And when the music is bad, i don't feel like it's a good church experience.
    The thing is, he's a good drummer. But he loves the idea of being “the worship leader” and”the deacon of worship” and all these titles, that he insists he continues leading instead of drumming.
    I'm struggling between the musician in me who wants the music to sound good so that our congregation can worship God and our church body can grow, but not wanting to hurt the feelings of a friend and a brother in Christ.
    Has anyone ever been in this position? Can anyone offer advice? I'm just not sure how to handle this gently.. I've been praying about it but i thought reaching out to others for advice would be helpful as well. Thank you all and God bless.
    Karen

  • #2
    It's a tough position to be in. Bottom line, it's up to the pastor to step up and make a change.

    Years ago, I played on a team where the leader was like that. He could kind of sing, and kind of play guitar, but could not do both at the same time. No one had the stones to tell him how bad he was. He eventually left the church to go somewhere else, but it was awful.

    George Orwell said, "we have now sunk to a depth to where restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men". Nowhere is that more true than the church. I hear story after story about the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about- 'oh my, this is really bad, someone needs to say something, but we don't want to hurt their feelings'. Meanwhile, the situation gets worse and causes unnecessary drama and potentially irreparable damage in it's wake.

    I get that, we don't like to deliver bad news, but sometimes, we aren't doing anyone any favors by withholding candid but loving feedback. There are ways to do it constructively, of course, but it still has to be done.I don't understand why it's so hard to tell people things they don't want to hear. It seem easier to watch 30% of the congregation leave than to risk offending one guy by telling the truth.

    In this situation, ultimately, the pastor needs to step in and deliver the message. In the meantime, what you might try is offer to record (or have someone record) a couple services and let the leader hear for himself how bad he sounds. Spin it like 'this will help all of us'- which isn't a lie. I thought I could sing ok until I heard myself on recordings- it was an eye opener. It drove me to get better. But I was thick skinned enough to say 'wow, I sound bad'.

    There's only so much you as an individual can do. I hope it works out ok for you
    If we want to go places we haven't been, we will have to do things we haven't done.

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    • #3
      Thank you for the tips! Yeah i asked a friend to record it on my phone last week.. but the friend is also tone deaf and was singing along while holding my phone.. lol i love that she's participating in worship and all, but i couldn't hear the band that well, which was the goal.. I'll probably have to find a different way to record us.
      I think that part of the problem is that our head pastor has been leading worship with this guy for a while.. our pastor plays guitar pretty well and has been trying to help this guy "get better".. so while he does know this guy messes up, i don't think he really gets the full experience of how bad it sounds.
      I'm also considering suggesting to our pastor that maybe we alternate weeks.. like instead of all of us leading every week, we alternate who plays what week (currently all of us are up there every week). That way at least it's not every week that worship is bad!!
      I'll also try to get a better version of a recording and see if that helps. Thanks again for the advice!

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