Recently, I've had a couple people who are consistently requesting (actually pleading) "could we PLEASE sing (this) song for praise service (or choir) tonight?"

I'm open to hearing what songs people have on their hearts and I've tried to oblige them and work it into the repertoire for that service but it's getting to the place where it does not leave freedom for me to be the director and feel after what the Spirit is leading. For this next service they've already pleaded with me to choose a particular song for choir and now a particular song for worship. Sometimes it does not fit in with the direction I'm feeling to go in music or the songs I already have picked out.

I responded and told them I'd pray about it and see if it fits in with the songs I already have chosen but did not give them a definite answer.
How would you or do you respond to people like that?

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Depending on the DNA of your church family, there are times when you can take requests (a congregational meeting, a home Bible study group, a sharing and testimony night, etc). But there's also times when you shouldn't. Usually for me that would be the main services that are planned for each week.

As worship leaders, we are using our gifts to create services of worship, and hopefully we are looking to the Lord for direction and inspiration. For someone to just come along out of the blue and say "please do this" is not only impractical (were they really praying about it or did it just 'hit them' as they were buying cereal that morning at the grocery store...), but also disruptive, for the reasons you've mentioned.

Pleading is not only improper, but childish. Are they assuming that they know better than you what God wants to do with the worship? I think not. They're probably just wanting to hear their current favorite song, Sorry, but times of worship are not the Top Ten Hit parade!:)

When people request a song from me, I just assume that it is something we MAY do one day, but certainly not today. And because I assume that, they've learned that that is how it will be.Be patient with them but be firm.
"When people request a song from me, I just assume that it is something we MAY do one day, but certainly not today. And because I assume that, they've learned that that is how it will be.Be patient with them but be firm."

That sounds like a good approach.
I jokingly call it 'leading by example'!
This would be for the main worship service.
I agree ~ it's not about hearing your favorite current song but about ministering both to the Lord and the congregation in song. I think they think that "pleading" will cause me to give in more than if they just came and made a request.

I do feel many times when they're asking this, it's because it's a song that popped in their head and they just want to sing it at church the next time we're together but what is ministering to them on that particular day at that particular moment may not minister to the congregation or be what the Lord is wanting said for that service.

I also feel if I do not curb this early on, it will get out of hand and become a consistent thing for them to make "requests" every service.
Your response has been very helpful and insightful....Thank you!
Although the bible cleary teaches in the New Testament that when the early church came together, many would have a song or a word to share, the word also clearly shows that God always has a man or a woman that he has placed into a position, when he wants something done. In rather curt terms - when you're in charge, you're in charge. God will move in and through your life, because he has placed you in that position of authority. While suggestions and requests can sometimes help to focus you on a certain area or certain topic, they should not move you in any particular direction unless the Lord quickens it to you or your spirit says, "Amen."

A poliite reponse like you are giving is fine and should solve the problem. If it continues you may have to be more direct because the "I'll pray about" is a pretty obvious "no."

Ocasionally people may be truly hearing from the Lord which is why I suggest you filter the requests through the spirit. But I've also seen people try to hijack the worship service for various reasons.

In one of my churches we would occasionaly have a family service where people were allowed to minister in music even if not part of the team. These were people in the congregation that had a gift and a piece of music in their hearts but were not on the team. This provided an opportunity once or twice a year for them to be able to minister.

Personally I find requests from the team much harder to deal with. As a leader we should be listening to our teams and imparting the things of the Lord to them while they too should be imparting the things of the Lord to each other and us. Often my team has had the "Word" or the "song" for a particular service that broke us into heavy worship. However I am always careful when a team member hands me a CD and asks me to review a particular piece or two because it is "so powerful, and is certainly something the Lord wants us to do...." I do my best to listen, but lay it before the Lord like I would anything else.
You've made some good points.
Actually when I say "I'll pray about it" I am not giving a definite no. If it's a no I'll say "not for this service"....how's that for tack & diplomacy Junje? :-) If I say "I'll pray about" I do sincerely mean it because as you said it may be God is using them to give me some direction for the service. Then again, it may just be a distraction and detract from that particular worship service. Filtering it thru the Spirit does help to discern which way it is.
If I have the time and I don't already know the song, I'll give the song a listen. If it is usable, well, why not? There might be a day when the song they request is appropriate. But if the song isn't going to work, I'll tell the people directly. "This is more for performance than for worship" or "This is too difficult for the people to sing" or "Pastor doesn't like this song". Giving people a concrete reason is a good idea, if there is one.

Then again, I am not really known for skills in tact and diplomacy... :)
Thanks for posting response ideas. I agree - giving them a concrete reason does help them to understand why we don't use a particular song so they're not offended.
People are funny and have funny ears. Today my team led worship. Out of 6 songs, we did one hymn.

Afterwards one of my older team members suggested that it would be nice if we did more hymns in a set, because "some of the folks really miss those." Then I went out to the lobby and ran into an older lady who is known for complaining that we don't do enough hymns. Her response (unasked for) was "Thank you for doing so many nice hymns today."

So who do you listen to? I think you listen to the Lord and make up your worship sets from there. That is our role. As an example, I made a last-minute song change today, right before the services began, because I really felt the Spirit leading that way. In the end, it was obviously the right thing to do.

Worship leaders, fulfill your gift.
Great reply, tactful and diplomatic. Thanks! :)
LOL! That is funny.
i like the bit bout hymns, people really do have funny ears. being led by the Spirit is definitely a must, often times congregation members are really interested in their "favourite" songs, and i've come to realize that although we dont want to offend being firm is necessary. As leaders we are accountable, therefore whoever has the decision-making power, is equally responsible.

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