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A question from a Worship Leader and father.

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  • A question from a Worship Leader and father.

    Disclaimer, this may take more than a few lines to explain so if you aren't up for a read I apologize.

    I have been involved in worship for the past forever. Started when I was 7 and have only stopped for about 4 months right after I got married. Most recently I've been leading worship at a smaller (50-75) church for the past 3.5 years. 14 months ago my wife gave birth to our beautiful daughter and 3 weeks ago we found out she's pregnant with our 2nd child. What does this have to do with leading worship? Everything. I love my wife, I love my daughter and my unborn child, I want the best for them in all things.

    The church we currently attend is very "community centered." Our worship services are good, but some of the musicians are not as dedicated as others, which is fine, I understand with kids and vacations. I feel that our leadership is not called to be the pastor's of a church, but were rather talked into pastoring a church because they had a great outreach ministry. Our church has a children's ministry but we have had more than a couple families leave or new families not stay because they felt the children's ministry was not teaching their children about the Jesus or the bible.

    Here's is my concern, with one child here and one on the way, I'm concerned with the children's ministry and my daughter having the teaching that my wife and I are giving her re-affirmed at church. My wife and I do our vary best to instill a deep reverence for God as well as teach what we can about God even though she's so young. I don't expect the church to teach my kids, but I do expect what we're teaching her to be solidified through the teaching at church.

    As for the other issues that I have, I have lived with for more than 3 years, and some of them are really starting to weigh heavily on my heart. Our numbers have not increased in quite some time despite having many new families and individuals come into the church. In the past couple of months there has been a downward trend in the giving of the church (our church includes the budget and giving for the month in the weekly bulletin), and the pastor has mentioned every week for at least the past three weeks that "we" need to be more faithful in our giving. While I understand that the church has bills, I do not believe that a weekly reminder from the pulpit before dismissal is necessary.

    So all that said, I have been praying for the past 6 months about the direction that God has for my family. I have only recently asked my wife to start praying about this (she has told me in the past that she has not been feeling "fed" from anything other than worship in more than a year, this alone was a little disconcerting and makes me sad on another level). I feel like I have been praying, and my prayers are not being heard. While I know that this is not true (I recall where the bible says that as soon your prayer is heard it is answered and sent back, but there is a war between the angels and demons that may cause your answer to be delayed) I can't help but feel a alone without an answer.

    I have not made any decisions about whether or not my family is to move on from our current church or if we are to stay, but I have felt out of place the last few weeks at church. I have continued to put my best worship forward and even introduced a couple of new powerful songs in the past few months with great reception by the congregation, but I can't help but feel out of place. I turn to my brothers and sisters in the worship community for some advice on how to proceed.

    I have talked to the pastor about feeling out of place and was told he feels it is just a season that will pass. I love my pastor and his wife, and they have been super generous to me and my wife (we're volunteers at the church) at christmas and birthdays, but I'm not convinced this will is a season in the desert that will pass.

    My question is, have any of you experienced anything similar to what I'm going through? How did you handle it? If you left your church how did you tell your pastor? Did you tell your pastor? What was your pastors response to your decision to leave?

    I'm looking for some solid biblical advice on how I can proceed.

    Thanks in advance for advice and prayers.

  • #2
    Biblical advice? Pray even more.

    A few years back my wife and I had very similar feelings. We felt the kids ministry was not feeding our children properly. We felt like we might have to move to a larger church. We even sent our kids to VBS and youth events at some other churches, as well as visiting them ourselves.

    While some of the kids/youth programs were great, I found nowhere that really moved me on Sunday morning. Then I heard God speak clearly "If the church isn't what it needs to be, then make it better."

    So my wife and I took over the children's ministry and made drastic updates to it. It's been five years, and it's still growing strong. Be clear, that was God's answer to me. But it makes sense - if people just leave a struggling church, then how is it ever going to grow?

    I guess my advice to you would be to visit some other places, and see if anything really calls out to you. But sometimes the answer to prayer is silence for a long time, until God is ready to reveal his plan for you.


    • #3
      Thank you. My wife and I have prayed about helping in the children's church, but neither of us feel the calling to do so. I personally know several local children's ministry pastors from other church's and can see first hand that they do an amazing job that lines up with what we are and want to be teaching out daughter. My wife and I have visited several of these church's and we really like two of them for ourselves to be fed, the others would be a move strictly for the kids.

      Believe me I know all to well the notion of "how's a church to grow if people continue to leave," and I am not a proponent of leaving for "greener pastures," so I guess my current stance is to pray for everything else around my situation and see how God changes those.

      My wife and I were talking last night more about this and we were talking about how it's definitely not just about us anymore, the game has changed. We have 1 kid and a bun in the oven so we have to think about them as well. I'm continuing to pray and wait for what the Lord instructs but I have to say that I have a sinking feeling that this may be the end of my time at my current church and position.

      I know through the internet on a forum is a crazy place to ask someone who has no insight into the situation other than what I'm saying for advice but other than my wife and my close friends I really kind of need some other perspective on the situation. Thanks for all your help and prayers.


      • #4
        I've been in your situation and it's a tough call.

        As a parent of 4 boys, it's important to me to have a church with a strong kids' program. To me that shows the church leadership recognizes the youth are the future. As Dr. Sumrall always said, we are only one generation away from paganism.

        Remember, no church can take the place of you as parents. I know you know this, but it bears repeating. However, part of that is ensuring your kids are getting reinforced from somewhere besides you. As important as that is, if you make a decision 'strictly for the kids', that will work for awhile, but you need recharged, too. You will get to where you will 'drag' yourself there for the kids but you will not be engaged. You will get bored with it. You can give it a fair chance- I always recommend at least 3 months before you can confidently discern what the culture is. That's a little time for the 'new church smell' to wear off and you get a little more realistic picture of what the norms are.

        I would up in a few different churches for a season of a couple years. It took awhile until I found one that felt like 'home'. One answer I got in my prayers, God told me 'when you find it, you'll know'. I don't advocate leaving either, but I also feel it's not doing you any good to stay in a church that's not a good fit for you.

        As far as 'Bible', for us it was like when God told Abram to move to a place 'I will show you'. Like Abram, we had to step out not knowing where we were going to end up. We as Christians sometimes have to do this. We know we aren't here we belong but don't know where we need to go. We have to trust that God will show us the way.

        It was a challenge. We would be somewhere for 3-6 months, and my wife and I would feel that it wasn't where we belonged and pulled up anchor. It was hard on the kids, hard on us, but we wanted to be sure of where we belonged. We were labeled 'perpetual seekers' and written off, but I was done spending time in a church that wasn't a fit for us. I have 3 kids with unique situations- ADHD, hereditary hearing loss and global developmental delay- I had enough drama in my life without the added weight of church-induced stress.

        Having kids like mine, it really brought out the character of a lot of people real quick. In one church, because our developmental delay kid was so small, we were accused of undernourishment. In another one, the (lady) pastor and her husband stopped by our house unannounced to say basically our kids were too much for the kids workers to handle. Of course, when asked, they all denied it... One we were in, the church was going through a lot of issues with power struggles, etc. The pastor was a great guy, I really liked him, he tried so hard, but every idea he had (that were necessary to grow) the elders shot down- then griped that the church wasn't growing. Along with that, the kids ministry was just babysitters and it was dying.

        For us, it was a tough season, but the most valuable thing I leaned is what a church isn't supposed to be like. If it doesn't feel like home, it's a good 'gut check' that it's time to move on.

        All that to say that there won't be a 'perfect' church, but there is one that you will feel like home. Where we are now, we love it. The kids ministry is strong, the adults ministry is strong, the leadership is strong, it's not overly big but it's strong in the Word and engaged in the community. The culture is realistic- we are people, we all come from somewhere, we are all in different places and we all help each other out. Yes, sometimes there are minor skirmishes, but it's handled like adults, we get past it, and move on.

        I know it wasn't all chapter and verse, but hope it helps put things in perspective.
        If we want to go places we haven't been, we will have to do things we haven't done.


        • #5
          You are in a hard situation, my friend. Sometimes God will want you to stay and persevere through a tough situation. At other times, He will use that situation to move you on to something new. There really aren't any easy answers. Keep praying, and know that God does know the situation, and has a plan in it.

          I will say this: if you and your family choose to leave, don't go to a new church solely for your children. It won't work. Your children's spiritual foundation will be built by you and your wife. If you two aren't fed and happy in the church where you may move to, then the greatest children's ministry in the world isn't going to be good enough.

          My prayers are with you. I know you will make the right decision in this matter!


          • #6
            Thank you all for your insight and prayers. I feel that God is calling me and my family into another season in life that doesn't include the current church that I'm in, which will make the transition that much more difficult. As the worship leader for the church it really ads to the stress of leaving as I haven't really raised up another person to fully take the lead if I left. There are 2 people that I have had fill in for me while I have been out of town, but they haven't really been trained to lead the worship team.

            So that being said I have a follow up question. I have been talking with other worship leaders in my area and have been asking for their insight. Is it customary to give a "notice" if you are a volunteer leader in the church? I would expect so but I'm not sure. This is my first go-around with this. Some of the people have said set a date for you to leave and work on transitioning out and then inform the pastor of your decision to leave and then go. I don't know.

            My current thought is to have the other people that I have been working with lead a song or two each week for the next few weeks and get the congregation adjusted to them leading and then make the announcement that I'm moving on. Thoughts?

            I do know that from past worship members leaving the church that the pastor did not take too kindly to them leaving and did not give them his blessing on moving forward, not even a hug after they met. It was not an amicable separation by any means, and that's what I would like to avoid, but I think that is more of a pipe dream than even a chance at reality.

            Any thoughts or ideas on how I could approach this?


            • #7
              I am actually in the process of moving out from our current church and have recently stepped down from leading worship. It is never an easy thing to do, but if God is in it, then you will get through. Honestly, if you truly feel God is calling you and your family to something else, then I believe the Pastor should 100% support that decision. They may not agree with it, but should respect that you are making a hard decision, and truly believe God is leading in that direction. If a pastor wouldn't give his blessing to leave....then I'd consider that as confirmation I made the correct decision to leave....but that's just me.

              As for how to leave....if you have a couple people that may be able to take over leading, my advice would be to get them involved in doing it ASAP. Of course, that probably has to come with the pastor's permission. But allowing them time to adapt and learn while you are still there to give advice, critique, and a sympathetic shoulder to cry on if needed can be invaluable! I'm sure you have so much you could share to get their journey as a worship leader off to a great start!

              But above all, try and keep the peace with your pastor and allow him to make the final decision on how to go about this transition. And once the decision is made, support it 110%...even if you don't agree with it. I believe that is the God-honoring thing to do in this situation. It may not be easy. But stick to your guns on the decision you make, and be as humble, patient, and loving as you can through the process. God will work it out in the end...for you and your family, and for your current church.


              • #8
                Originally posted by Kgallemore View Post
                Is it customary to give a "notice" if you are a volunteer leader in the church? I would expect so but I'm not sure. This is my first go-around with this. Some of the people have said set a date for you to leave and work on transitioning out and then inform the pastor of your decision to leave and then go. I don't know.
                I don't whether it is customary for a volunteer leader to give notice, but I think this is definitely a time that the Golden Rule would apply. I would give a reasonable notice (probably a month) and offer to work with your two back-ups during the transition. I would probably even be willing to help the back-ups with any questions for a month of so after leaving. In your case, I would also give the pastor the option of having you go now. Either way, I would not make a big deal of leaving. I definitely would not announce it from the stage.

                I left one church (ironically, I am back at that church now!) and gave the "chairman" of the music ministry committee 6 weeks notice. I was already going to be gone one of those weeks, so I did 2 weeks on the end. It really just made things work out better on the calendar anyway. Otherwise, I would have just done 4 weeks. For various reasons, I didn't have to tell the minister, but he was the kind that did not take it well when people left. He actually was gone before the 6 weeks was up. (To tell any more about that might help someone figure out who/what/where I'm talking about.)

                After I left church 1, I went immediately to church 2, where I had planned to just really do nothing musically except sing in the choir. However, I was asked to do a job that they had had a hard time keeping filled (in fact, no one had done it any time I visited) so I accepted that job. When I left church 2, I had only been there 5 months, and was going to be out a couple of weeks anyway. So I kind of went away the weeks I was going to be gone, and never came back. However, I did tell the music minister (who was brand new -- even newer than me) that my leaving had nothing to do with him, or with anyone else. I had just needed a temporary oasis and it was time to move on.

                At church 3, I didn't want to do music at all, but got drafted to do a little, again things that no one else had been doing. I stayed for around a year, when the problems way back at church 1 finally started to get resolved. I had been honest with the leadership at church 3 that a bit part of me was still connected to church 1. And church 1 was much more convenient for my life. When church 1 started turning the corner, I was begged to fill in there one week and got permission from church 3. Shortly after that I knew I had to give church 1 another go. I left church 3 with the blessing of the elders.

                I think part of the good reception back at church 1 was because I had not made a fuss when I left. The corporate world tells you not to burn bridges, and I am glad I didn't!

                That's a long story to share the important message: GIVE A REASONABLE NOTICE, BUT DON"T EXPECT IT TO BE TAKEN WELL.


                • #9
                  If the main reason for leaving is the kids ministry maybe you could consider sticking around a little bit longer? Your children are still really young. I have an 18 month-old at home and for me personally I'm not too concerned about the kids program until age 4 or 5 (thankfully we have a wonderful program). It seems like up until that point most children's programs are near equal--play time and some simple bible stories. A lot could change in a few years or even a couple years.

                  However, if that's only one of many reasons you feel you need to leave I would do whatever you possibly can to get the worship ministry to a sustainable place before you leave. Give a good notice, 6-8 weeks if the pastor is willing to keep you around. Raise up a leader, not just musically or vocally, but someone who has leadership ability beyond that. Someone who can keep a team motivated and unified and someone with some admin skills. Leaving in this way will speak highly of your character. And I'm sure you'd hate to leave and have the worship ministry completely fall apart in your absence.
                  Originally posted by kepmek View Post
                  Ultimately though, as kepmek said, it might not be taken well. Especially if the primary reasons come down to disagreements in the way the church is led. While every church is flawed, some things are negotiable. But if you feel you're unable to fully submit or respect the leadership everyone involved will be better off if you honorably bow out.


                  • #10
                    I agree that as far as what you can do, do it the right way- then it's in their court. They may be gracious, they may not. But at least you did what was right.

                    Sometimes they appreciate the heads up and the offer to help train someone up, sometimes they show you the door right there. Be prepared for both.

                    I would recommend to sit down and let the team know what's going on too. You don't have to go into details, but inevitably the speculation and rumor mills will ensue- don't feed it. I feel it's right to be on the level with your team (not all the details, but the basics) so they know not to buy into the rumor mill or at least have less of a tendency to speculate and give the wrong story.

                    As far as someone else doing the music, don't sweat it. If they had music before you, they will have music after you. If God's moving you on, God will take care of the church you are leaving. Not that you want to leave people high and dry, but you have to trust that if God is really moving you on, He's planned out who will step up into the role you are leaving. I've heard a lot of team leaders get worried about 'it will fall apart if I leave'. It might stumble a bit, but God already has it covered. He is in control, right?
                    If we want to go places we haven't been, we will have to do things we haven't done.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Mike on Bass View Post
                      I would recommend to sit down and let the team know what's going on too. You don't have to go into details, but inevitably the speculation and rumor mills will ensue- don't feed it. I feel it's right to be on the level with your team (not all the details, but the basics) so they know not to buy into the rumor mill or at least have less of a tendency to speculate and give the wrong story.
                      I guess I skipped that part of my novella. I did tell the choir on the last Wednesday that the next Sunday was my last day. Like MOB recommends, I didn't go into why I was leaving.