I have a question.....our Worship Pastor/Leader is going to be leaving our church on the next leg of his walk with Christ.....as I have stated, I am only four years reborn, and people are telling me that times of transitions can cause people to act in a somewhat unchristian manner, and to be aware that things can get a little crazy......I am not concerned about our ministry members, but am concerned about the reaction from the congregants....there is also a possibility that I will be asked to lead the department during the transition.........have any of you been through this, and what can I, as director of music and director of our worship arts ministry do to make sure that this transition is smooth, positive, and makes the next worship pastors entrance a positive and smooth one? What type of congregant strangeness can I expect to experience? Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated....


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Chris, I would suggest that you and the current Worship Pastor/Leader meet as soon as possible to talk about and plan for the transition. Discuss ministry schedules, scheduled programs, key contacts, team communications, and what has been put in place already. Identify any gaps in planning and discuss how those gaps will be addressed. Once an interim plan is drafted, both of you should meet with the Pastor so that he/she can have input into the plan and to give his/her blessing. Once the interim plan is blessed, plan on meeting with the worship team so that everyone is informed and knows what to expect going forward.

Regarding the congregation, if the Pastor has not announced that the current Worship Pastor/Leader will be leaving, he/she should determine the best time to do this. In the communication to the congregation, he/she should also indicate that you will be stepping in in the interim, and he/she and the congregation can then send the current worship pastor/leader off with their blessing, and also praise God for working through you in the interim.

No one likes change, and if your current worship pastor is beloved, you can expect that the congregation will express their sadness at his/her parting. However, if all are positive regarding your stepping in, such positiveness will go a long way in helping people know that all will be fine.

I thank you for your reply....it took me a couple of days to get my brain around his leaving, but I understand that this is something that had to happen, and that God knew it would happen 8 years ago when the church first hired him.....your insight is very helpful.....perhaps after the senior pastor meets with me a in a week or so I will feel a little more comfortable......at this point, however, I have been given no direction or plan....have basically been told that he is no longer the "go to guy".....given the job search, selling of home, etc., this is understandable, but I think due to my lack of experience in these matters I expected more ....have given it up to God, for it is in His time and His way......again, thank you!

I totally agree with Michelle, it is the Pastor's role to inform and prepare the congregation, he will be able to best gauge how to deal with it and the initial reactions to it, and also to prepare you if you will need to fill in or take over the reins. I'm sure when the time comes, they will know and be expecting change - which can be more exciting than daunting!
Have you led worship before? If people have heard you lead worship before, then it's not as unsettling as they're already used to you being up there anyway, and will be supportive. And as you have an obvious heart for the congregation, that should shine through. Remember, God is faithful, so please try not be anxious, I'm sure the leadership are praying & discussing what will happen next and will let you know soon if they'll need you to be filling in.
Thank you Jo.....

The input I am getting here is very helpful......we are blessed in that we several p/w leaders, including myself, who will fill in.....the best of us is a young man whom admire...he is an awesome p/w leader with a true heart for the Lord.....the congregation is used to seeing him and is supportive of him.....so in that area, I am not in the least concerned....as you said, God is faithful, and He would not replace what we have with something less.......again, thank you so much.....I am learning from all of you...

Don't be (too) afraid. With any new WL, some people will compliment, some will complain, and some might leave. All this is normal for any change in the church. But see this as an opportunity for all to grow in grace...

Be aware (but not too paranoid) of ego strangeness from -

Congregation - the usual "What's going on here?" questions, plus getting used to the transition and/or the new Worship leader. Assurances that God is in control should help.

Fellow Worship team members - Often it takes a while to get used to different leaders, styles, etc. Be honest, but give each other time and patience, and pray that the Spirit of Christ should shine through your interactions.

The Leadership/those in charge of the selection process for the new Worship Pastor - The pressure is on this group. Your Pastor/Minister has to be sure that the choice is compatible with the church's style and goals, and has to balance that with input from the selection committee and those in the music ministry. Also on you, if you are the one responsible for that choice. Pray. What is their character? Interview, investigate their musical and spiritual backgrounds, and try to get a feel for each candidate by observing them in rehearsals and leading in the service.

The new Worship Leader - You want a servant leader. They may need a period of monitoring/mentoring. I think the worst nightmare of any singer or musician is a WL that is nice to the leadership but who is mean to those under them. I have seen power and authority over others go to people's heads, and it wasn't pretty.

Am reminded of the prophet Samuel's choice of David for King of Israel over his brothers in the OT - he thought one of David's older brothers was right, but God told him no - "I do not see as man sees"...
Thank you so much.....I liked the "(too)"!......I do not know how much participation or input I will have in the selection process, but I would hope that on the ministry side, it be conducted with the same process we use when someone wants to join the worship arts ministry.....audition, interview, several meetings, etc.....I am blessed with having an awesome group of ministry members, and have asked one who is my spiritual peer to help guide me and counsel me during this process......you have been most helpful!

I have been in your shoes - in our church plant, I played a supporting role on the worship band for about three years: first bongos, then bckgrd vocals, congas ... and watched three leaders come and go before I was ready for - and given - the leader role. Luckily, because we are a church plant and a "church for people who don't like church" ... we never had a lot of complaints no matter who was leading (or leaving). I thank the Lord for that!
In my experience (here and at my previous church, where we attended and served for 5 yrs, my husband was on staff there), sadly it seemed the seasoned Christians were sometimes the squeakiest wheels when it came to transitions. I say this as a "seasoned Christian" myself, coming to Christ nearly 30 yrs ago. This is not always the case; a lot of "old-timers" really "get" worship, that it's not about our tastes or the way we've always done it, but about glorifying Jesus and drawing people into His presence. But as a general rule, we are creatures of habit and those with the longest-held habits and traditions will sometimes creak the most.
As I said, it doesn't need to be a squeaky transition. I suggest you cover the situation with your prayers and make sure you step up the group prayer time when you are leading. It's neat that you might be able to lead a little more through the transition time. Be certain you may overhear some people say "I remember how the past guy led that song, that was so great" or "I like how so-and-so leads better, I hope he is chosen to take the past leader's place." Sometimes people intend for these comments to be taken personally, but usually they are just putting their foot in their mouths. In some congregations, you will hear 10 complaints for every one "attaboy, Chris" and that doesn't mean 90% of the people dislike you. It just means the meanies are more vocal! :) I only say that to give a worst-case scenario. If there is a moment of great hurt or ugliness, bow your head and ask for humility. And go home and pray for the person involved.
On a fun note, you might get more song requests when people realize you're fully in charge on the week that you lead. Good luck with that one!! :) It might be helpful to say "we're trying not to introduce a lot of new songs during the transition" or whatever, if they come up with a real doozie.
The bottom line? Pray a lot. Pray for the new leader coming in (or stepping up) - and for open hearts and flexibility within the congregation. Our last church went through at least 5 worship leaders while we were there and each time one left, I thought "how will we get someone to take his/her place? They were sooooo good!!!" And God pulled it off every time. He's kind of wild that way.

Thank you so very much.....the responses I have received have been very encouraging, and greatly lessened my "worry" factor over this coming transition....I know that God would not sent a lesser person, and a new perspective on flow and spirit led worship will be interesting and challenging......if we have not hired someone by the time the our worship pastor leaves, I am planning on having a "step up to the plate" rally for our worship arts ministry.....to try and motivate those who do not usually go that extra mile into stepping up and taking ownership of their commitment to the ministry.....for the most part it is good now, but there is room for improvement......I feel we need to make sure and give the new person a secure, solid, and motivated group of people to work with, both for his sake, and that of our congregation.....it is the least we can do for the privilege of being able to use our gifts for the glory of God.........



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