Hello, I'm looking for input for a meeting I'm going to have with my praise team tonight. I and a number of others from the congregation and church staff feel that the team has drifted away from authentic worship to performance. They play and sing very well but don't seem to really connect with the congregation any more. Some have started talking about the team as a click and closed group. There are a number of behaviors I will talk about tonight but one thing that we have never agreed on is what the team does during the sermon. I feel, and a lot of reading seems to support this, that during the sermon the praise team members should not exit the sanctuary or have a whisper/chat huddle in the back during the sermon. I've talked to them about either sitting up front in the empty seats or scattering among the congregation and give the sermon the same attention everyone else gives it. Right now they only seem to want to do that if their family is there. We have two services so their complain is that they will have to sit through the same sermon twice. I don't see the problem with that if it makes the congregation feel like the praise team is a unified part of the church body that way. I sit through the sermon twice and either pick up something I missed the first time or the pastor changes it up a little and I get something new. Either way I'm participating in the entire church service as a congregation member that happens to also lead worship.
My question is what does everyone else do? That's a question my pastor asked me today and I don't have a solid answer. She says she doesn't mind if they leave for the sermon but whispering in the back or making a very obvious mass exodus is not something she cares for.
What do you do?
FYI: We worship in a triple-wide portable building right now so it's hard for everyone to leave and not create a very visible exodus.
Hi Pete, I always sit through the sermon and take part in the service, as do other members of the worship team and we would never think of doing otherwise. I think apart from anything else, is is downright bad manners for the team to do their thing, then make an exit when they are done. I think it is no surprise that other church members and staff feel they have drifted away from worship and don't connect with the congregation, they don't seem to want to. It is not acceptable that they sit and whisper in the back and your pastor should mind, and not tolerate their rudeness.
Pete, I apologise for being so blunt, it is not at you, it is genuinely out of concern for your situation and I pray that your meeting goes well for you. Lorraine
Thank you, blunt is great. I can't imagine doing anything else either. That's why it was a bit of a shock when they balked at my suggestion that they behave as members of the congregation by sitting and listening to the sermon even if they are there for two services.
I've got a followup question about pre/post service times. I feel it's important that we are done rehearsing and ready to mingle and meet the congregation as they arrive instead of rehearsing right up to the start of church, or hanging out on stage as a closed group jamming, talking,etc. Same for post service time. What does your team do during these times?
I worship at different churches, with different teams, but the team always try to get set up in good time (sound checks etc.) well before the service starts and before people come in if possible. I have never been part of a team that would jam on stage just before the service. Again I think this is irreverent and disrespectful. Often members of the congregation like to have a quiet time of prayer to prepare their hearts for a service, and how can they do this with all that racket going on?
Could I ask a question? Just out of curiosity, do the team ever pray as a group before they worship?
I lead a prayer circle about 5 minutes before the service starts of the tech team members and everyone on stage. I've been told that this comes off poorly also. That it's like we are trying to make a spectacle of our faith before the congregation. So I'll be talking about that also tonight. I came into an existing group with some bad habits and now that I'm leading the group it's turning into a real effort. Kind of like trying to turn the Titanic. I feel we should not do anything that detracts for worship or the perception that we are anything but members of the body of Christ we serve that just happen to also lead the music. I found this quote last night that I'm going to use.
"Worship Matters. It matters to God because he is the one ultimately worthy of all worship. It matters to us because worshiping God is the reason for which we were created. And it matters to every worship team member, because we have no greater privilege than leading others to encounter the greatness of God. That's why it's so important to think carefully about what we do and why we do it."
That sounds wonderful Pete, you have a heart for true worship and have prepared yourself well for tonight's meeting. If anyone can turn the Titanic, then you can, as you have a sincere and humble attitude. I have heard God's voice speak in everything you have said on here, be assured that I am praying for you, and for God's voice to speak through you tonight. Many blessings. Lorraine
Speaking personally, our worship teams do at church. And our band goes even deeper into prayer and intercession with a group of intercessors and leadership before we play for Live Worship events and conferences at a location separate from church. I feel it's vitally important to prepare and till the ground, and the hearts (both us as a band/team to rid ourselves of the distractions and "baggage", and the congregation/etc.. ).
..I have found that all the time I can get before the service starts to either tune, or pray, or just go over my part(s) is invaluable..it's important to be focused and prayed up for the start..which can jump up pretty quickly! After service I LOVE mingling and am in no rush to pack up gear (as long as I know it's not going to be a temptation to anybody).
In my prior church (about 300 members then), this exact same thing happened weekly, and the exodus was actually led by someone in leadership, on the worship team. At the time, I was on the worship team that played at least 2 of the 3 services each week, which included a Saturday night. At the end of the worship, the team would all exit the sanctuary and actually leave the church, going out to McDonald's down the road for coffee. I am quite sure the congregation saw the exodus from all the windows that viewed the parking lot. *cringe* Checking their watches often, they would return just before the end of the sermon for the closing worship of 1 or 2 songs at the end. How do I know? I will tell you honestly that I joined them twice I think, more out of feeling pressured and wanting to fit in as I was fairly new. The whole time I felt incredibly convicted in my spirit that God was grieved, and that this was setting a very poor example, morale, and witness for the congregation. If they didn't go for coffee, most of them walked out and hung out in the hallway, to talk and goof around. One fellow team member even went as far as leaving after the first worship, grabbing their belongings rather obviously, and going home. I was embarrassed, but didn't have the tenure or felt I had the open door to say anything. After going those couple of times, I chose to remain and listen to the sermon and be part of the congregation, even when I felt like I was sticking out and I wasn't necessarily part of the "in" crowd.
I wouldn't say at all that the majority on the team(s) were in it for performance. They were good people with a heart to worship, but with a bad habit, in my opinion. However, I would say that it was definitely a "clique" thing, and if you weren't part of that, you felt kind of like a speck. I used to really hate it when a certain team was referred to by the worship leader as "The A Team". That was demeaning and hurtful to everyone else, and put everyone in a competitive landscape, which is *not* what worship is about. I'm thinking God wouldn't want this.
Being older, more experienced, bolder, and more reflective now, I would not hesitate to be in thoughtful prayer and address it if I saw the same situation again, and I would seek the input of someone trusted and wise, and perhaps also in leadership, to make sure I was discerning correctly and I was the appropriate one to bring it up. In my current church, everyone on the worship team has a solid relationship with our worship directors who have a very good heart to spot and deal with such things, and any correction would come in love because they love us, as everyone wants everyone to succeed and move forward with their giftings. I think as most cliques go, there is a leader, for lack of a better term, and the rest in the group more or less follow to be popular or liked, regardless if they may even feel the same way.
I hope your meeting goes well, and God's glory is manifested in everyone's words and actions. We have to keep reminding ourselves that the enemy wants nothing more than to destroy and divide the church, and he starts with the front lines - the worship.
- Oh, one other thing. Our current worship directors and pastors would actually not hesitate to ask anyone on the worship team or serving in other areas to take some time off until any heart issues were worked out. They would do it in love and with great compassion, and they wouldn't just dump the person to figure it out on their own. They would have regular meetings with them of encouragement, getting rid of any of the junk or baggage or rejection that could seed these kind of habits or behaviors. We also have a rule in place that states that to be part of the worship team you must also be active in what we call an Ignite Group, which is like a Bible study, so everyone is equally yoked and part of the vision of the church, not on an island.
Thank you for the confirmation. This is exactly what is going on. The pastor and I will be talking to the team together tonight. You are also right about the leader of the problem. He is the best vocalist and has been on the team forever. He has a good heart, loves God and worship, but also a little bit of ego that is creeping our more and more lately. he now heads up multiple church committees, his wife also heads a committee, and his importance at his job has been growing. Thanks again for your insight, it will help a lot tonight.
Worship team members are in that position as servants. They are there not there to play their part and then leave. They are not there for themselves. Ask them how they would feel, if when they got on stage, the pastor went out the backdoor and hung out with other church leaders. Seems to me that they need to remember why they are there. If they don't like that they have to hear the word of God spoken from the pastor (even if it's the same message twice), then they shouldn't be on the worship team. If you're heart's not in the right place, you have no business trying to lead others.
That said, you really do have to be careful how you approach them. You don't want to hurt their feelings. In fact, you should approach them with love and not discipline. I pray for God's grace and wisdom for you and your pastor during the meeting. May you both speak His words and not your own.
Thanks. I plan to approach the issues from the direction of asking for help. I'll present the feedback I've been getting, ask for help is addressing the issues raised toward our team, and toss is some suggestions based on all the reading I've been doing this week and the feedback I've gotten from this discussion and other WTR discussions I've found. Like I said in another post here, I'm the one that's leading the prayer circle, and I'm the Worship Leader, so I'm in the wrong right along with them.