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.
Yeah, what happens with me is that when I'm voicing a conviction, my face gets all serious and almost mad-looking, simply because I'm trying to NOT look serious and mad. lol. (insert exasperated sigh) Then people think I'm mad and I'm not! Just trying so hard to get my point across without them thinking I'm mad; it's an ongoing cycle. Ugh.
My group gets off stage and sits down just like everyone else. But we don't do two sermons, so I'm not sure how I feel about having to sit through two services. My initial feeling is - only one sermon should be required. But I'm not sure what they should do - go to Sunday School? Teach kids? Sounds like a dilemma to me. If they have nowhere else to go, I guess it's two sermons then.
Whether we can all agree on the best scenario - i.e. taking part in one sermon or all of them - I think we seeing here an overlying issue, and that is one of leaders being leaders.
I think what Pete has done (and allowed us to take part in vicariously) is to take his leadership role seriously and deal with an issue the best way he knew how, with no guarantee of the outcome. For example, how could anyone know that a team member losing it would lead to a better overall tone on the team? When a leader is firm but loving, things can move ahead.
I think we've also seen that every church situation has its own set of limitations, whether it be facilities or the facilitators, or even the congregation itself. Our job is to work with what we have, all the while keeping our eyes firmly on the Lord for guidance, because along with limitations, each church has its own unique set of opportunities for the kingdom.
FYI: Back to the original topic, we are going to take a shot Sunday at letting the Pastor verbally excuse the team from the sermon during the second service and let them either sit in the congregation or respectfully leave the sanctuary and return after the sermon. I don't remember who suggested that but it was a very popular idea with everyone involved. Nothing like overlooking the obvious.
The support and information I received from everyone that posted here was amazingly helpful with this situation and my own insecurities in dealing with it. Thank You! WTR is a blessing to me and God's ministry that I am trying to lead at his church here in Jacksonville FL.
Personally, I think this is a bad idea. Why can't they listen to two sermons? It communicates something about them. It's about submission to authority and respect for others. If they are a stumbling block for others, then they need to do what it takes to change that, including sitting through two services, if necessary.
Well, that was my original point to them. The sermon's not so bad that it's unacceptably painful to listen to twice. I do it every week and actually get something from the second sermon that I didn't get from the first. Either it hits me differently or she changes it up a bit. But the pastor told them that she really doesn't care about them actually siting through the sermon twice. Her issue is with the "way" they don't listen to the sermon twice. I figure baby steps. If this will cure the immediate problem for the pastor then I've got time to see how things go and work on the next step if one is needed.
We are in a small church so, everyone sits down with their families.
To be honest, if your worship team isn't trusting your "orders", it may come down to your leadership ability. I say this only because I've gone through the same thing. They probably know how important it is to be part of the worship team, BUT like in any relationship they eventually see your flaws.
Be open and honest with them about your flaws and ask them to come along side you to be strong where you are weak. So that we can act like the body of Christ.
Thank you for that. I'm usually the first to admit where I'm weak. I've always tried to run things very democratically and open to a lot of input from others. I think that has translated into some thinking they have much more power and say in certain things than they really do and that has created a bit of friction. The prior leader was very autocratic and nobody on the team felt like they had any voice in anything which had beaten down their morale. When he left, the pastor and the group asked me to step up into a leadership role. I'm a fairly introverted computer software engineer by trade. Being totally outside my comfort zone and experience, but having a passion for worship and God, I explained to them, the pastor, and the church council that I would do it only if everyone (or the vast majority) was happy that it was working well for our church. If I wasn't fulfilling a high percentage of peoples expectations I would be the first to step out of the way to job search for a new leader. I would not lead if I wasn't cutting it and providing what was needed for our church to grow. I still keep a sharp eye on that with the pastor, church council, praise team as a whole, and how our congregation responds to worship. So, open and honest isn't something I have too much trouble with. I tend to over do that part sometimes. :-)
Teams generally do not function well as democracies. Generally, SOMEONE needs to lead. Now, listen to their input certainly, but LEAD. This means that sometimes you will make some people upset. That's part of leadership. You have to remember that while you ARE serving your team, they are not your primary area of service. Rather, you are primarily in the service of the Lord to the congregation, and must put the congregation's wellbeing before the team. Cultivate the heart-attitude of a pastor, and leading a worship team becomes much clearer and easier.
You're completely right. That's what I'm learning. I've gotten the team back to enjoying worship again but as they are starting to lose focus lately I'm seeing I need to steer them back to our goal of leading the congregation to God in worship. Asserting that leadership is turning out to be a little painful for both of us based on past precedent I've set. That's the same advice my pastor gave me at lunch yesterday. "You obviously love you team members and church but YOU are the worship leader and have the authority. Take that authority and use it lovingly but firmly". So that's the thing I'm working on most right now which is ruffling a few feathers. But I'm committed to pushing through with the support and counsel of my pastor.