What does a worship leader do with occasional but never ending negetive feed back.  Mostly opinion drivin.  Example: "Oh by the way, when we sing hymns, can we pick hymns without a ton of words, or if they do, at least make sure they have a chorus".  this kind of trivia sickins me in my effort to do the best I can to sing and lead what and where God wants to go.  For the most part we have great worship with great congregational participation, week after week, yet on an occasional Sunday with one perhaps misplaced song, someone will just have to spout about it.  Is this the norm?/  And How do you handle it?

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Some of it depends on who is giving the feedback. I would attach a lot more weight to the words of someone who is a talented, generous leader, who knows what it is to shoulder the burden of ministry and bear the pain of others than from someone who sometimes deigns to warm a pew and has a reputation as a pain to others.

Also, I'd balance it with whether you get any positive feedback. If the atmosphere of a church is overwhelmingly negative, there is an issue which goes beyond relatively small things like different opinions of what makes a great worship song.

Wulf

It depends on how often and how much this happens. Of course you can't please them all. I always listen to what they say and if it sounds reasonable and not like some pet request, I'll try to take it to heart. Otherwise, I ignore it.

- Like the time someone left an article in my inbox about modern worship music being too loud and full of heavy metal content - a very negative article. Not even in tune with reality. The article was entitled "turn it down". It was totally anonymous and frankly irrelevant. I definitely ignored that one. As it turns out, our associate pastor gets lots of little messages like that (not about music). It's very common.

You go to that Heavy Metal Church, Stevo???  hahaha

Hi Levite (good name!)

 

The reality is, when you lead in the direction that God is saying, people get annoyed and will complain. Look at the Israelite in the desert, they moaned the whole way round, despite everything that God has done for them. It was Moses who was at the centre of the complaining - because he was uncompromising (to a point) The reason people complain is because most of us like to do things on our terms. We worship god on our terms, we expect Him to bow to what we want, rather than vise-versa. We tell God what sort of worship we find acceptable, what sort of church we find acceptable, rather than submitting to His will and saying, "wherever you go God, I will follow, no matter how uncomfortable it gets."

 

A true Godly leader will know this is just par for the course. All you can do is stand for the purposes of God, and realise that some people will react against that. How did the religious people treat Jesus. Did they all love Him? No, most of them hated him and put Him to death. It's not much different today! All you can do is keep seeking God, seek His presence. It's the only way to deal with it, but be aware, that the more you follow God, the more conflict there will be. That is why you have to be able to stand on Him alone.

Very wise, Benjamin!

That sounds good, but I'm having trouble with it. I'm not sure you meant it all this way, but here is what it says to me:

 

First, it implies that the leader who is standing up is unquestionably right. When is that true? I've learned to listen to people when they have suggestions because I'm not always right no matter how godly I am at the moment. The more I get into leadership and delegation, the less often I find myself being right. None of us can claim Moses status - zero.

 

Second, it implies that everyone's complaints are unimportant. I think it's good to know when you are right, but when it comes to worship music and how that should be conducted and prepared, there are no "God says this" kind of answers. There is a ton of room for subjectivity and few things are clearly right or wrong.

 

Third, it implies that peoples' suggestions are mere moaning and reactions to God's purposes. Many many times, I have had people make suggestions to me about what they would enjoy seeing with the praise band. It's perfectly fine to have those suggestions and if I think it will benefit the experience and we can incorporate it, I'll try to see a way to it. If I think it's just complaining, I'll smile and say, "I'll think about it". But in the past 10 years, I've had one or two true complaints while the rest were from sincere folks who meant well. That being said, I've not had the time or energy to implement every good idea.

 

So for this exercise, it's par for the course that you will get lots of aggravating comments. But It's a godly person who can set aside the aggravation and discern good criticism and make appropriate changes. All too often, you will find yourself on the wrong side of right.

 

Thanks to all for the comments.  It is no secret to me that I could toughen up a little.  And know we are not Moses status but in my case, he and I do have one thing in common.  Neither of us wanted the job God gave us.  I new before I ever took the job that I would be dealing with people.  But I guess that's why they call it serving. Blessings to all you other Contemporary Levites.  At least we get to play some cool instruments and make some cool sounds and I know God loves it all because He invented it, to be done with a pure heart and for Him.

=) I'm reminded of story of Numbers 13 & 14.

 

For every Joshua and Caleb, there were 10 other spies who without being too harsh, were wrong and ultimately lead to their own demise. If my math is wrong, that tells me 83% of the feedback you get might be just bad.

 

Ministry, unlike democracy is a case where might isn't right and public opinion isn't always right. Churches shouldn't be run with target groups and pollsters (and spin doctors).Our leadership is very clear that we don't run on 'democracy', but we try to run on consensus.

 

To me, there were two very important lessons I had to learn about serving at the church:

 

#1 - Leaders need to learn to sift through the feedback, know what's good and what's bad/useless. How many times have the majority of God's people wanted to abandon Him? However, in most cases God's chosen leader was there to help reign them in. Sometimes you need a little discernment to go with the thick skin. Not all feedback is positive. If you're know your calling from God, sometimes you have stay the course, even if it's bumpy.

 

It's like being a school bus driver. The trick is how to keep the bus moving in the right direction without aggravating everyone on board. The inmates shouldn't be running the asylum.

 

#2 - While it's great to be involved and participate and help with feedback, God's people need to learn that sometimes being a good steward is submitting and sacrificing. The congregation as a whole, often needs to learn to accept some things outside their comfort zone, for the greater good. We as a whole need to learn the church isn't "ours", it's God's. Very different from home or work.

 

Sometimes leaders need to remind the 'followers' what their roles and responsibilities are as well. But obviously in a kind, respectful and caring way.

w.

Right now I'm dealing with a closing song, called "Shalom", which we sing in both of our services.  It's really beautiful, the kind of song everyone sings holding hands, facing each other.  For some unfathomable reason, several people in the early service, where we do more current music, want it to go fast.  To me, the whole idea is to mellow down and look at each other's faces one last time before we disappear into our week.  Furthermore, it has a totally conjunct melody, nothing but stepwise -- absolutely nothing to hang a snappy beat on.  I asked the drummer to play (people think everything is faster when the drummer plays, even if you slow the tempo down!); but he doesn't know what to do with it either.

It's a little thing that is not going to split the church or get me in serious interpersonal trouble; but I do sense that it comes from the mindset that says "contemporary = snappy, zippy, get it done, nothing mushy or slow", and doesn't even realize that the "modern" world, the one driven by consumerism, zip and panache, is now passe, old hat -- and that this generation desperately wants faces to look into.

So I don't have a final answer, my levite friend.

Except that people, human-race members, like to spout, some more than others.  Like the whale, they are compelled to spout every time they come up for air.  We like to be recognized.  Musical taste is such a vague and subjective thing that a personal can successfully spout without getting a direct rejoinder.  Look at these discussions -- we spout all over the place, doubtless stepping on toes we don't even know about -- but we're glad for the privilege (of perhaps getting stepped on ourselves) and come back for more.

So how about doing it thrice at the end of the first service - fast, super-fast and then part or all at the pace you think suits the tune and melody? That's a solution where everyone gets what they want. Alternatively, let the first service people have it as fast as they want. You'll still get it at your speed at the end of the second service and, if you get complaints from others in the first service, you can receive them as compliments.

100% win for you ;-)

Wulf

And another issue is when people comment about the music group being too loud, when what they mean is that they couldn't hear the words.  Now, if you want loud, we can do loud....

 

So often I think it is a case of a misunderstanding or lack of expertise to be able to do anything about it, so they 'complain'.  the number of times I have been leading to be approached at the end of the service by someone to say, 'sorry, we couldn't hear you'.  Nothing I can do - but why didn't they talk to the soundman if it wasn't right?  Often if I am in the congregation and something is not right, I will go to the sound desk and ask for an adjustment; sometimes our vicar will look at me and mouth [can you hear the leader?] so between the 2 of us we can fix it.

 

I suppose though it helps being in the leadership team!

 

I think you're onto something. For instance, when I play my electric guitar, my wife usually complains that it's too loud. No amount of volume reduction will change her complaints. But if I scoop out the upper mids, she never complains. The frequency content of what you play/sing has a lot to do with what is perceived as loud. Electric guitars tend to live in the perceived "loud" range. I want to tell people to get over it, but heck, if their ears are uncomfortable, that's not for me to question. So how you allocate the frequency spectrum to instruments and voices is very important for the overall perception. 

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