It has happened to every worship leader.
You find the most amazing song for the worship team to learn and are completely confident that they will love it too. Then, you start noticing subtle comments during rehearsal and find out the team isn't quite as excited as you thought they would be.
When my worship team learned 'Forever' by Kari Jobe, I just knew they would love the song, especially since it is quite popular in worship music.
But, one of my worship team members shared their opinion, "I can't stand Kari Jobe...her voice is so plain...", which opened the door for everyone else to express their view of the song choice.
Right about now you may be thinking that I have quite the rowdy worship team. But, they are actually very dedicated and easy to work with.
To be honest, this used to bother me because I took it as a sign of disrespect. I wanted the team to just come in with a smile and keep their opinion to themselves.
Then I learned that there is value in the opinions of others.
This does not mean that I drop a song because the electric guitarist doesn't like it, but I do let them have a voice. After all, a team is not much of a team if the leader's voice is the only one heard.
A team is not much of a team if the leader's voice is the only one heard. Tweet Quote
So, I want to play out a few scenarios that you will most likely encounter (if you haven't already) and provide a response you can use that will benefit your team. This will also help keep you from getting upset with others who disagree with your song choice.
The best worship leaders generally aren't the best vocalists. They simply allow the anointing to carry through their voice.
Unfortunately, it often hard to experience that anointing in a recording. So, you may not quite enjoy listing to the album of this specific artist, but you may find that you feel otherwise when you actually experience their voice in a live setting.
The best worship song is often the most simple. Our goal as worship leaders is to present music that is easy to engage with.
The thing we want most is for the congregation to join in, not to stand amazed by our skill. Plus, a skilled musician understands the value of holding back and keeping things simple.
I simply let everyone have their say and then let them know we will learn the song anyways and see how the congregation responds. I will generally schedule a new song 3 weeks in a row. If the congregation hasn't engaged by the third week, the song is dropped.
Keep in mind, even if a worship team member doesn't like the song, they will generally change their mind if the congregation latches on to it.
Share in the comments below.
First of all Kari Jobe's voice isn't plain at all! She has a beautiful voice. So tell your team, don't be dissing my girl like, that come on. I think what is most important in this topic is that the vessel carries an awesome product - the anointing (wth) Secondly, Thank you Kade for you insight on the issue, I think that when you are open to other views outside of your own you learn a lot. So keep doing what you're doing, you're a great help.
I like Kari Jobe as well. I actually remember when she was first getting started at ORU considering I live in the Tulsa area. Thanks for the kind words, Alexcia!
Tell them your doing Passion's version of it, that's Melodie Malone singing it...... LOL. I have a couple of team members that really don't like Newsboys, but they have released a couple of songs in the last few years that are great. So I just go back to the original artist's arrangement and they are cool with it. But I know that's not always possible. But those other voices do challenge me to know why I choose a song so I can explain it's purpose when those comments and conversations take place. I've also had to explain why we can't do song that have been suggested and challenge our team to know and understand the congregation God has called us to lead.
Great points, Jeff.
Thank you so much for this article. I have experienced more than I like too. I too allow them to express their opinions and then as you said I keep on with the song and see how the congregation likes it as well. Thanks again.
Thank you so much for your articles. I feel as though I have someone sitting at the table with me giving me guidance! I am relieved to hear you address things that I have been pondering....questioning if I was doing it right or not. Thank you!
I am glad you find them helpful, Lisa. Thanks for the comment!
I remember this one time the team I sing in didn't want to play a song just because they didn't feel like it. My response was: it's not about me, or us, it's about what God has put in my heart to sing because He knows someone out there needs to hear the words of this song. I also sang forever at my church and while the musicians weren't that into it the congregation responded other wise, and I feel like that's the important thing. It's never about us, what we do as a worship/praise team (in Spanish mainly it's called a praise team) is God-centered and we have to let God do what He wants to do through us and if that is by a song we don't like well we are no one to say no to Him. Also Kari has a beautiful voice and anointing and that's why she is where she is right now, because she understands this, I actually learned much of being a worship leader through some of her teachings. So ha! Also thank you for the posts they're VERY helpful. God bless!
Great points, Jonathan! I appreciate the comment.
Everyone is not always going to agree (shocking, I know!). As leaders, it's your responsibility to be obedient to what was laid on your heart to sing or play. On the flip side, I love what you said about a team not being a team if the leader's voice is the only one heard. Great post!!
I really like Brian Johnson's version of Forever, after all he's the one who wrote it!!!
There is actually quite a list of names attached to the song - both Brian and Kari included 🙂 but yes his arrangement is nice!
Wonderful insight! I love Kari Jobe but she sings in a higher range, which throws some people off. My co leader posted your quote about being a team...which is spot on! I want to do her Forever as well for Ressurection Sunday so I'll let you know how it goes! Thanks again and blessings ????
I listen to the complaint and then let them know in a loving way that we are not doing this for our comfort or our pleasure and that sometimes God will call you out of your comfort zone to accomplish things on a greater scale. I let them know that their opinions are valuable and taken into consideration but ultimately it is God's will that wins over in the end.
I've had this happen quite a bit. One instance in particular that I have no idea how to handle it is, I had our team practicing "Future/Past" by John Mark McMillan. The vocalists didn't want to do the "oh-oh oh oh-s" layered with me doing the chorus like the album does. I assured them it sounds great, trust me. And we practiced it and it did sound great. But when it came time to do it in the service they just refused to do it, and instead sang my part which made it sound like a jumbled mess. So the next week we repeated it since it was a new song. And i encouraged them to sing their part instead of everyone belting the chorus and they were getting some major attitudes with me.
Yeah...that's a challenge for sure. Maybe try recording it both ways during a rehearsal and playing it back so they can see which sounds better?
I've introduced a few songs by some lesser know (unfortunately) worship bands like Citizens and Kings Kaleidoscope. The first song I ever introduced by Citizens was "Made Alive" which is just a great, upbeat worship song with solid lyrics that clearly present the Gospel. The first comment anyone (hardly coincidentally a vocalist) made was, "I can't stand this guy's voice." Initially, I was annoyed. Were they completely missing out on how good this song was/is? But to be fair, I recognize the style of his voice is very niche to alternative rock. And since that's kind of my wheelhouse as far as the kind of music I listen to, I just couldn't imagine anyone criticizing the vocals, much less anything else about the song.
I'm now at a more traditional Baptist church and tried to introduce the Kings Kaleidoscope song "Defender" last fall. I had seen the band live just a few months before and was blown away particularly by that song. I thought, "Man, that would be a great church song!" We tried it about 4 times, and I could tell the congregation was just not connecting with it - to say nothing of some of the comments I had gotten from some of my worship team.
Crazy how that happens, huh? Seems like the best song in the world, and then people just don't connect with it.