You just finish up worship on Sunday morning and you're feeling like everything went really well. The band was in sync, the transitions were spot on, and the new song you've been practicing for a month sounded great. To top it off you can sense the presence of God in the sanctuary as you prepare to hear the word. And then it happens. A well meaning saint comes up and begins to tell you that you didn't play enough hymns, the music was too loud, they didn't like the new song, you played too many hymns, the music wasn't loud enough, or one of many other complaints you hear on a weekly basis. How do you feel now? Did they miss the move of God or did you imagine the whole thing?
Being a worship leader is tough sometimes, but I think part of that is because we think that leading worship is just about singing the right songs on Sunday morning, We tend to judge whether or not we are successful by the reaction of the congregation. We treat them as an audience as opposed to those we are meant to lead. As leaders we need to communicate where we are going.
If someone is complaining about a certain aspect of our worship service, we first need to determine if their complaint is legitimate. Let's face it we are human and we make mistakes. If an older saint is complaining that the music is too loud it might be because certain higher end frequency can actually be painful as we grow older. Take time to find the root cause of the complaint. Most times complaints stem from a lack of knowledge about either worship in general or our vision for our worship services.
We treat them as an audience as opposed to those we are meant to lead.
Sometimes people feel worship is just about singing songs and can get fixated on certain styles and genres of music, basically it comes down to preferences. This is a tough area because we all have preferences, even worship leaders. If you are getting a lot of complaints about the style of music from multiple people then maybe you are letting your own preferences dictate the style as opposed to the culture of the church. As leaders we need to keep the culture of our church and our community in mind when selecting songs.
Notice I said both the church and the community. We need to be relevant to the community in which our church is located, otherwise we become an exclusive club for people of similar tastes. Don't get me wrong hymns are great, I make a point to do at least one hymn every Sunday because of the great theology that is expressed within them, but if all we do are sing hymns from 100 to 50 years ago we may have a hard time reaching some of the younger generation. By the same token if your church is located in a community that is predominately retirees, then some of the newer praise music may not appeal to them.
It's ultimately about Jesus.
As leaders we need to teach the people we are leading that worship isn't about our preferences. It isn't about us at all. It's ultimately about Jesus. It's about worshiping Him for who He is and for what He has done for us. The unsaved will respond to our worship but only if it is relevant to them. As a believer I can worship God regardless of the genre of music, as long as that worship is directed at the King of kings.