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  • Advice PLEASE

    On a Sunday morning during practice, a song was not going well (instrumentation was not together) and I also felt that there were too many elements. It was the last song and I decided to reduce and simplify; I asked several members of the team to sit the last song out. Come to find out someone's feelings were hurt. I called them to talk and let them know my heart behind the decision, but also listen to their perspective and feelings on the matter.

    They did not understand being asked to sit out a song (our set was 7 total). That morning I had several vocalists, keys and piano, drums, bass, acoustic and electric. The elements I reduced were the drums, bass, and electric. After this, the song flowed better and I felt that the Spirit was prompting me here - less is more sometimes - ya know?

    Upon sharing my heart behind my decision my team member said there should never be songs that dis-include anyone. If you have people - use them always. I also tried to give them a bright side in that they had an opportunity (for one song) to worship without contributing to the music from stage. They could sit with their family and JUST worship. As a leader, I am glad when I have an opportunity to take up space in a congregation and just sing my guts out - no involvement stage side of things. They heard this as me telling them how to worship and they would have rather been on stage.

    They even went as far to say that if they were not going to play one song (OUT OF 7) that they would rather not play that particular Sunday. Just to make sure, I said - You mean to tell me if I had a particular song that just called for piano you wouldn't want to play that week? - Yep, pretty much.
    To further muddy the waters they also expressed that my decision wasn't the Holy Spirit and was kidding myself.

    Despite all this, I did take away some nuggets of truth in the fact that I need to lead less with my instrument (not play all the time). Essentially the conversation ended with agreeing to disagree and they believe I didn't make the decision to hurt feelings.

    Pretend you're me - WHAT DO I DO??

  • #2
    Thanks for asking! Shows that you want to learn and grow and become a better leader.

    Here's a few thoughts:

    1) The idea that one would want to totally sit out all the songs if they couldn't play on one song is ridiculously, self-centered. Period. Part of great arranging means that you use all the elements you have wisely and strategically. If you have a large band (or even think of an orchestra) if everyone is wailing away on their instruments, you don't have lovely music, you have loud, chaotic noise.

    Using instruments wisely is the sign of a good leader. And better yet, the sign of a good team when they realize and buy into the fact that sometimes it's the time when they ARE NOT playing that gives the overall song great impact.

    2) I don't think you're wrong for asking folks to sit out for that one song (in light of the fact that it wasn't coming together), but I think a better approach might have been to replace it with a song that everyone was familiar and comfortable with. Sometimes when a song isn't coming together in rehearsal, we'll just replace it with one of our deep reservoir songs and commit to coming back to the new one the next week.

    If it's a song that is needed specifically to fit a theme or the message for that day's talk, it's best to begin rehearsing it a few weeks out if you can, so that you're not left with inadequate rehearsal time.

    3) I'd also consider having folks help lead out alongside you (if you don't already). Obviously, everyone up front is leading to a degree, but sometimes what makes us great leaders is actually letting others lead. Whether it's using someone else to carry an intro riff, or another singer to lead a verse vocally, or whatever. If you don't already do this, I'd suggest working that into your style. Keeping in mind, that having everyone singing on mic or every instrument playing all at one time can be pretty chaotic, it might be better to arrange songs and set lists where you have folks weave in and out of the arrangements.

    For vocalists, they would still SING the whole time, they just wouldn't necessarily do it on mic the whole time. Same for instrumentalists. I wouldn't necessarily have them step off the stage, but they can sing and worship from right behind their instruments, even if they are not playing at the moment.

    EVERYONE is leading visually, whether thy are heard or not. Worship is so much more than sung or played notes.

    Again, I appreciate your question. Your heart appears to be in the right place. Keep on keeping on!
    Associate Director of Worship & Media at St. Simons Community Church .He is also the content curator and editor here at The Worship Community.


    • #3
      I'll echo Russ' comments. Use this as a learning experience for yourself. Two things:

      1) Decide a better way to handle this next time.

      2) Talk with your entire team now about having servants' hearts and about how you might make a similar decision in the future, so be prepared to respond in grace if you're asked to sit out a song or two simple because your instrument detracts from a song. Discuss the 100 percent rule, in which, as a full band, you're playing a song to it's 100 percent potential, meaning the sum of every instrument/vocal is 100, not that every instrument/vocal is playing/singing at 100 percent...that may even mean that sometimes, an instrument is at 0 percent.

      You've got a spoiled brat on your team. Regardless of how you initially handled the situation, the fact that you made contact afterward to apologize and explain, and were told that you were wrong and not being led by the HS is a huge red flag. To be honest, if I were in your shoes, I'd have a face to face with this person, give them one more opportunity to get their heart straight, and if not, explain that if my judgment were going to be questioned, this person needs to find another ministry to serve in, effective immediately. I don't have time on this earth to waste on people who won't respect and submit to my leadership when their maturity is obviously stunted without hope of growing.

      Practical Worship

      Please Pray For My Wife


      • #4
        Interesting perspectives- for the most part, I agree with what's been said.

        As a 'contributor', more so as a contributor who has experienced something like that, I can offer my perspective. One thing I would try to do is put myself in their shoes.

        My thoughts on the situation-

        - Is this something you have been known to do before? Meaning, is this kind of ad-hoc change something you do often enough they should expect it? I would say if its' a one-off request, people may have been caught off guard and misinterpreted why you did it.

        - Is following the Spirit something you normally communicate to your team? I'm a Holy Spirit led guy, pray in tongues, etc., but I can attest with confidence that I've heard "the Spirit led me..." more than once when it wasn't the case. I'm not saying that you are like that, but if it's something the team isn't used to hearing, it may come off as a self-serving statement.

        - Sometimes people on a praise team situation can read too much into a situation. For this one, you asked the bass, drums, and lead guitar to sit out, at the last minute. This can make someone feel left out. I've been there before in my younger years. Although it's not intended that way, it comes across as "I don't need you". I would also say the suggestion to contribute to the worship from somewhere besides the stage can come across as patronizing.

        Some general suggestions for next time (aside of the great ones already given)-

        1) If they are not playing, they can pray, sing along, raise hands or any combination while on the stage. That's what I learned to do in the same situation. You can keep the person engaged in leading worship (because it's not all about their musical role, right?) and this reinforces a behavior that others in the congregation should be doing anyway.

        2) I would avoid having them leave the stage- kind of tied into the first point. If people see them leave, it's disruptive, causes confusion (opens the door for speculation and rumors), and doesn't portray a 'team' atmosphere.

        I also agree that the person in question has a pride issue. The response sounds like one I would give if my ego was hurt and I was immature. I do agree with Nate that if this person is flat out telling you that you are wrong, and refuses to change their attitude, you don't need that on your team. You need to communicate that they don't necessarily have to agree, but they do have to respect your judgment and your office as worship leader. If they are not able to do that, they need to step down until they are. It's not personal, it's not a power trip, it's just the reality of team ministry. You are not called to debate or argue your decisions.
        If we want to go places we haven't been, we will have to do things we haven't done.


        • #5
          Just wanted to say thanks to everyone for the advice. I posted a long reply and in true fashion, my computer lost it!

          I will re-type the fact that the song was the last song after the sermon, so there was no awkward go down and come back up.

          I'll repost another response tomorrow. Thanks again!


          • #6
            You've already got some good advice here...I'll just add a few thoughts.

            1. If having the freedom to not use everyone all the time is something you want to keep doing in the future, you could move toward that by (a) talking about why its sometimes better, ask them to consider if they are more concerned with serving the congregation, or performing. (b) having the full band sit out for large portions of a few songs, and then point out that sitting out some songs makes people appreciate what their particular instrument brings to the table. (c) have some instruments sit out a song in the middle of a set, but stay on the platform and still sing along.

            2. Just to reiterate others, it sounds like you did nothing wrong to ask a few to sit out...since we weren't there we don't know if it came accross to harshly or not, but the act itself is something you have to be able to do sometimes.


            • #7
              oops...double post


              • #8
                This situation truly saddens me. Unfortunately being part of a worship team comes with the earthly baggage that some may choose to serve their ego's more than serve the Lord. We have 7 people on our worship team and it's not uncommon at all that some songs require some members to sit out. We can range from only two people (acoustic guitar and singer) to the full band, and we're truly blessed that everyone sees it as doing what's best for the song and therefore best for inspiring the congregation.

                I'd strongly urge you to have a team meeting about what it means to serve in this capacity to try and get everyone's hearts and minds around their purpose in being there and what it means to be a servant. I know it's very easy to lose that focus as we recently had to do the same thing to remind ourselves what an honor it is and how important that obligation is in aligning the hearts and minds of our congregation in order to hear God's message. The music is just our tool for doing such things. It's what's in our hearts when we play that serves the real purpose.

                My prayers are with you and I pray God provides you the wisdom and the words necessary to inspire your team to serve this purpose with a humble heart.
                The Posse Band live performance tracks can be heard by CLICKING HERE