expressive worship

The Freedom to Disappoint

My recent blog ‘Baby Steps’ looked at the role a worship leader at a new church, and what it takes to integrate new ideas into an old mindset. My friend ‘Jay’ helped me out by sharing his experience.

Since Jay was going into a traditional church making the move to a more contemporary music style, he had to be careful about not making changes too quickly or abruptly and took time to learn the songs the team was already doing.

Obviously change isn’t easy for most people and will typically be met with opposition. His first Sunday there, he got complaints about volume. (I’m sure this would be a complaint if I led worship anywhere…I’m a rock chick at heart. :-/)

I know Jay’s goal was not just to be loud for loud’s sake! Sometimes in order to get a complete mix so that all the instruments and vocals are heard, volume needs to come up. And I’ve found if volume is too low, people can be more self-conscious about singing out in the congregation. The typical “average Joe” non-singer just wants to blend in and not stick out in any way.

Jay then took time to work with the band in separate rehearsals to get them tightened up. He implemented using a click track to help get them together, and unfortunately some band members left the team over this. He held tough though, knowing that in order to accomplish his goals, the click had to be part of it.

As I was wondering if he let these things discourage him, he said, ‘Amy, I just had to give myself the freedom to disappoint people’.

Wow! That’s bold. But he’s totally right. You are NEVER going to be able to please everyone no matter how hard you try. There are too many different types of people and opinions in this world – and in your church – for this to happen! So get over it. Any time you try to make changes – even with the best intentions in mind – you WILL disappoint someone.

Remember Tom saying that 97% of the audience wants to like you? The other 3% will always find something to complain about. Let yourself off the hook and concentrate on loving the congregation. Then they will realize you have the best intentions in mind for their church.

For more insight, get these amazing DVDs from some of Tom’s workshops and watch them with your team. Understanding your congregation and the roles you play as part of a worship team, will get you on the road toward deeper, more meaningful worship!

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Amy Wolter

Amy has vast and varied experience in music, from keyboardist to lead singer, from songwriter to producer. She fronted a nationally touring Christian rock band that garnered some top 10 CCM hits. Playing in a variety of venues and churches gave her a real understanding of what audiences and congregations connect with. As a member of her church’s worship team, Amy understands the challenges that come with this, and enjoys helping Christian artists and Worship Teams create freedom in the room to truly express their worship.

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  1. Jim Drew says:

    Freedom to disappoint… Recently I had an acoustic Sunday, two acoustic guitars and a flute, two BGV. I put us in a semi-circle and took the drums and keys off stage so it was clean and not cluttered. I had written an email stating what I was planning, and I went ahead and decluttered the stage.

    But I got jumped for it. I guess the sound guy was taught a while back that the stage was to be left alone. Monitors in one place, no tweaking of the sound in between worship rehearsals and Sundays, in other words no other kinds of changes.

    I also learned I was coming off as too polished, that the very things that are natural for me, expressiveness and all, sounded too professional. I was told my thoughts came across as too polished, which was odd because any thoughts I shared, and I kept that to a minimum, were from things I was just reading and felt touched by.

    I guess I disappointed folks in ways I never expected. Has this ever happened to you or any of the worship artists you have worked with? I had a good talk with the Pastor and the sound guy, or I should say I mostly listened. (the sound guy was off the scale angry about moving and changing stuff and, well, whew!)

    I felt so bad the sound guy was angry. We do disappoint, and sometimes in a big way. I was disappointed, too, with the realization I probably don’t fit. I am okay with sitting in the pew cuz I love the Pastor’s teaching and the general atmosphere of the church and people. I am a bit lost on this part of it all, but I am there to worship as well, not judge.

    Don’t know if any of this makes sense, or is a common thing elsewhere.
    Doing good today, still praising, wrote a new worship tune, trusting Papa.


    • Amy Wolter says:

      Jim, thanks for your comments. I’m working on a response in blog form, since you bring up some things that other worship leaders may need to hear. Watch for it soon!

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