I am a worship leader in a small Tennessee United Methodist Church. I grew up in the church, but was drawn away to a more contemporary Baptist church down the street. The Baptist church had (and still does) have a true feeling of the Holy Spirit as soon as you enter. I worked with the P&W band on occasion and was very happy serving there.
A few years later, I was drawn back to my "home" church to be with my aging mom. Within the first few weeks, I was approached to develop a contemporay service for the now growing church. Now, I grew up in this church, was well aware of the "politics" and frankly thought a contemporary service would never be accepted. After much discussion and prayer, I agreed to try to start an early contemporary service in addition to the traditional service.
I say that, to say this. We are entering our 4th year and the service has been very successful, with as many worshippers as the traditional service. The problem is that we seem to have somewhat lost focus. The musicians (2-guitarists, 2-keyboardists, bass, drums) work very hard to make the service a success. My issue is the praise team. Two outstanding vocalists and 2 new teenagers who have real potential, but who all habitually miss rehersals for no reason.
I try to be a really nice guy, and keep the "drama" to a minimum, so I haven't made this an issue, but it is now affecting our service. I understand and agree that the service is not a "performance", but being unprepared to lead worship certainly effects the remainder of the team.
It is also becoming an issue with the musicians who do work hard to put forth the very best we can. I am to the point of saying, "If you're not at rehersal, don't expect to lead worship on Sunday".
Has anyone else faced this or am I just being a worship leader who expects too much from a voluntary team?

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Like this balanced perspective, bro.
Obviously the UM Church is that way because they CHOOSE to be. The Baptist Church was preordained to have more spirit... :)
hi Randy Harris. i completely understand the delema you are facing. it is very important to keep the cool. Do not make a descision quickly, take it to the Lord.
Over the years, I've had to work with the raw materials that God has provided. There's a big difference between commited worshipers and musicians who just wanna play on Sunday. (Sound familiar?)

Teens are not always committed christians. They often have a sense of the faith ... I.E. "I know who Jesus is and how we are saved" bit it desn't mean they run with Him. In fact the demographic age group of 17 to 24 will often fall away from God for a season.

I have (and am) dealing with the challenges associated with youth on the platform. Here's my attitude, I run with them even as I'm looking for additional musicians (their replacements). It's like looking for your next job while you already have one in place. When I have them in place, the teens can either ramp up their game & rotate with the newbies -or- they can simply step down because they cannot (actually they're not willing to) keep the commitment of rehearsal.

In the ideal situation, I'd like nothing but mature chirstians on the platform who are commited to the ministry and to worshipping God. Many in the congregation can tell the wheat from the chaff. But ... I need to keep a ministry going. so I accept the limitations of my current situation. It's a tough situation because I don't like the idea of the inmates running the assylumn. Teens know what's going on musically and are well aware that they have you between a rock & a hard place.

The other alternative is to look at what you do musically and decide if you can still do it without them.
David, I always assume that I may have to do it without them, and I'm not bothered by that. If all the congregation gets some Sunday morning is me and my guitar, then so be it. I've done it before and I'll do it again.

The way I look at the youth segment is as you say "I run with them even as I'm looking for additional musicians (their replacements)." It's just a fact of life that they will move on and soon. Graduation from high school, new jobs, new relationships, sports...there's always something.

Once I accepted this as fact, things got a whole lot less stressful. Instead, I look at it now as God giving me a window of opportunity to build into these young lives for a season, and then wherever they end up down the road, at least I gave them some life experience to take with them and build on.

For example, two weeks ago, I lost both my drummer and his brother the bass player due to a family move. The result? Last Sunday my 13-year-old son (a drummer) and his buddy who plays bass in middle school were my rythmn section. And they did great.

The downside: you never get to have that "really tight" band, but then, that's not what it's all about, right?
Rick,
I totally agree with what you said to your son and his friend. But remember this, and this is good for all of us to remember, you are offering to those teens a tremendous musical experience that they cannot really find in the secular community. They are getting to play with a band in front of people every week.

My sons learned the majority of their music in church not in the school system. Last night they both played with me at our CR meeting. Through the church music ministry, they have played with and learned from some of the best local musicians in the christian community.
Remember ... we play up to the level of people we play with.

Through the church music program they have played for city wide outreach events, christian coffee houses and for the least & the lost at the local mission. What a wealth of experience. I've gotta believe that there were some great seeds of the gospel & service planted within them. God gets us done through ministry.

As to the tight thing ... keep it as simple as possible to start with ... and like any other band ... they'll ramp it us as you guys learn to play together.
I have always taken the view that those who pray together play together. Prayer is vitally important to a worship group and praying together really builds hearts together as you come to the throne of God. Some musicians feel that they are of sufficient quality or experience to be able to avoid regular rehearsal, the secular band that I gig with as well, only rehearse occasionally to polish and introduce new material. However no-one should be missing the opportunity to pray together, it also helps to build team. I would want the worship team to want to come together to pray and worship. Practice is a time that you can just let rip in worship in a way that you probably wouldn't in a service. Some of my best times playing in the spirit have been in rehearsal.
Good point. Our rehearsals include sharing and prayer time. And we do cut loose in worship during rehearsal most weeks to such an extreme that it's the high point of everyones week. It takes severe circumstances to keep team members away from rehearsal. They come worship with us at rehearsal often even when they are not in the Sunday schedule that week. It was not always that way for us and I think it's mainly due to efforts made to pull the group together as a Christian family to enjoy and lean on each other and efforts made to make rehearsals fun. Structured but always allowing the Holy Spirit to step in and lead and I also schedule a little extra time for everyone to jam for 10 or 15 minutes on whatever they like.
Randy,

Hm.. so I think I've heard a lot of "no practice, no play" stance, which I agree. Our ministry has a code of behavior or something like that which outlines that. I have some teens on my team, and sometimes they miss practice, but they haven't missed without reason yet. =) I can't complain about them at all, they're great! However, our team has agree to have two practices before we play, so missing one practice isn't as big of an issue.

However, one thing I think was alluded to, but not explicitly spelled out is that unfortunately actions are consequence of the heart and decisions and priorities we have in our life. I'm not judging anyone, but over the years we have people who just weren't really called, but felt pressured to play and continue on. It was great from the point of view they felt they needed to sacrifice to provider something else for others in the congregation, but that only goes so far. Square peg in a round hole. Raw talent is just not enough. What we saw was that eventually it's like virus, and the bad attitude (intentional or not) spreads and manifest itself and can "infect" a good thing. Your actions betray your heart, and unfortunately your fruit as well. So please be careful.

Communicate is always the key. Sometimes we need time off. Sometimes we near to hear God calling us to be elsewhere, and sometimes that leaves the door for others to step up. You never know what God will give you, until you're willing to give up what you have to Him. (I've also seen some kids grow up and just amaze me. :] Who knew?)

Church is so different from the working world. You don't pay them, they don't report to you. You can't really fire them. You don't pay out bonuses or options. (But God does!) Buy-in and ownership are key. Maybe you can talk to some of the other people on your team too and see what they feel. I say it's never a democracy, but having census is ideal.

Just my $0.02.
So I guess we're the "exception to the rule"......maybe because I, the WL, work shiftwork........but we also have 2 teams, so that helps. And my 26 yr. old son and I are the guitarists on the team, and as he's "come back home for a while", we actually get a lot of rehearsal time in together.
As a team, we do have a regularly scheduled rehearsal space and time, and we attempt to use that as often as we can, but with the summer holidays, family, job, and life commitments, we all can't get together as often as we'd like. We really emphasize the importance of *individual* rehearsal time, as well. As a worship team, we've tried the "if your not a practice, your not "up" on Sunday" but found it's an unrealistic notion for OUR church........but I agree with the concept, and I've always assumed it's a great rule, IF you have the number/gifted people in your church where the rule can be followed to the letter.
Uhmmm. This being a rule in my current congregation in the music ministry. It's kinda strict here, no rehearsal, no participation. Tell those two new teenage singers that miss practice that God is not only looking for their skills and potentials, he is also look at the heart. If you are the leader of the group, I believe You have the authority to deal those teenagers. Give them warning and if they won't follow bench them and deal them with compasssion and made them understand why you did that. If they left the group, ask God to send musicians and vocalists/worship leaders who are excellent in both heart and skill.

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