116 – Responding to Worship Criticism, Part 1
What’s in this Episode?
In this episode of the Church Tips Podcast, Jeff Deyo (former lead singer of Sonicflood) talks about dealing with worship criticism.
Be notified when the Worship Leadership Track by Jeff Deyo is live!
The Pastors Guide to Navigating Generational and Cultural Worship Gaps
The Worship Pastors Guide to Honoring The Lead Pastor
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Read the Transcript
Dick Hardy 0:06
Hey friends, it’s great to be with you here in this Church Tips Podcast. I’m Dick Hardy. This is Jonathan Hardy. And we’re going to enjoy today talking to you about a worship leadership issue on the subject of responding to criticism from your congregation. Now, I know you don’t have that kind of issue, but I’m sure you have a friend who does.
Dick Hardy 0:26
Jonathan Hardy 0:27
That’s a biggie.
Dick Hardy 0:28
It’s a biggie. If you’ve been around ministry long at all, there’s always a critic out there. And then when you come to the issue of music, I’m telling you.
Jonathan Hardy 0:36
Dick Hardy 0:36
Bar none, if I’m with a group of pastors and leaders, and I say to them, what is the one thing that the church, if they’re going to complain about anything, what is the one thing? Boom, music. Worship.
Jonathan Hardy 0:48
Almost every time
Dick Hardy 0:49
Almost every time. It just always happens
Jonathan Hardy 0:49
Dick Hardy 0:52
Now, we have been fortunate enough to partner with a good friend, Jeff Deyo, who was the former lead singer with Sonicflood. And he has created a worship course, for worship pastors, lead pastors, anyone involved in worship leadership.
Dick Hardy 1:08
If you’re a volunteer worship leader, you’re going to see that this course is going to really address the kinds of things, the very kinds of things we’re going to watch and listen to here in this podcast.
Dick Hardy 1:19
This is an episode in module three, happens to be called Episode 3.6. But we’re going to break it into two parts. So responding to criticism from your congregation, part one is what we’re doing here today. And Jeff’s gonna talk about two things that will really help you as you’re navigating this particular issue.
Jonathan Hardy 1:41
Yeah. And after we cut to him and come back here for a little summary of our time, we’re also going to give you a free PDF that’s going to help you immediately put into practice some of the things that will address what Jeff is going to be talking about in this session.
Jonathan Hardy 1:54
So I’m really excited about that. I think it’s gonna be really helpful for you. And so without further ado, should we jump in?
Dick Hardy 2:00
Let’s do it.
Jonathan Hardy 2:01
All right, let’s cut to Jeff, and then we’ll be back after.
Jeff Deyo 2:04
All right. So responding to criticism from your congregation. We know it can be very difficult trying to please everyone. That’s the tension that we’re in as worship leaders, as ministry leaders in general, right? Because you have so many different people wanting different things. But here’s the deal. Pleasing people is not the end goal.
Jeff Deyo 2:28
Yes, we want to work with people, we want to love people, we want to serve people. But our end goal, our primary goal, is to serve the Lord. And we do understand that not everyone is going to agree, and not everyone is going to be pleased by the things that we decide.
Jeff Deyo 2:44
Some of the common tensions that we face are that some people want new songs, right? They’re kind of bored with the old songs. Other people are desperate for old songs, it means so much to them. So you have this tension of new songs and old songs.
Jeff Deyo 2:59
You have some tensions of people who want longer sets. Oh, I just want to linger in the presence of God. Why do we have to end? They’re frustrated. Why didn’t you guys keep going, I can feel the Holy Spirit moving, right?
Jeff Deyo 3:12
And then you have other people that want it be timely. On time, short, why are we doing this so long? Why are we repeating the songs over and over and over again? You have all those tensions, right?
Jeff Deyo 3:22
Another tension is some that want it louder, while some want it softer. So what do we do? Well, let’s jump in here.
Jeff Deyo 3:30
Number one, you got to be proactive about resolving issues before they arise, right? That’s why we’re doing this video is to give you some ideas. I mean, you’ve got it, I’m sure you understand these things, but maybe just give you a few more ideas of how you can be proactive. Because if we can solve some of these problems, before they become problems, hey, we’re winning, right?
Jeff Deyo 3:52
So I know, when I first got to North Central University, we had what we called volume wars, there was definitely some tension between how loud things should be and how quiet they should be, all that type of thing.
Jeff Deyo 4:05
And I do talk about that quite a bit in my book, Spark. And I will actually get to get into some details about sound and volume and decibels and all that stuff in module five. But for right now, just know that there’s some tensions there and we had to do some research.
Jeff Deyo 4:22
And that’s really what you might have to do, and part of what you’re doing right now. So you’re gonna be able to do some research and find out and understand decibels and the sliding scale and understand how all those things work and how to read a db meter and all that stuff.
Jeff Deyo 4:38
So, you know, I would encourage you when it comes to volume, maybe I could be wrong here, but you might just want to turn it down a little right now. Trust me, I love it loud. Okay, I like it loud. I want to feel the bass hit me in the chest. It’s awesome. But I know that everybody else doesn’t want that way. So maybe a proactive step you could take is hey, where I’d like it to be, and then where it ought to be. Right?
Jeff Deyo 5:03
Another thing you could do is you could provide earplugs. Now some people get offended by this because you’re like, Well, if we need earplugs, it’s too loud. Okay, well, but everybody has a different opinion as about concerning what is too loud. So that is another thing that you could do is you could let people know that there are earplugs available, if that’s what they prefer.
Jeff Deyo 5:23
Then when it comes to things like song keys, I know there are some, some struggles with people who are frustrated by the keys that we choose the songs to be in, right? They are too low for me to sing, or it’s too high for me to sing.
Jeff Deyo 5:38
Alright, well, I do encourage you as a worship pastor, this is my opinion, but that’s why you’re paying me to tell you this stuff, right? This is my opinion, and that is that you’ve got to set the key that works best for the singer first.
Jeff Deyo 5:52
That might seem selfish. But the last thing we need is a singer up there who can’t sing confidently, who’s singing poorly, because it’s in the wrong key for them all that stuff. They’re not going to be a very good leader, if they’re not singing in a key that works for them.
Jeff Deyo 5:52
And believe it or not, you know, there are songs that for me, I can only sing them in one key because the the range is so big, that it only works for me in one key. So I’m not trying to be selfish, but I’ve got to sing it in that key if we’re going to sing it, right?
Jeff Deyo 6:18
But once you figure that out, and if you say figure out that the song is not that wide of a range, and you could do it in different keys, then you should consider what the congregation would like. And oftentimes, the way we do that is that we pitch it lower.
Jeff Deyo 6:34
With guy singers, because so many times these days, guys are singing super high, which means the sopranos are singing, even sky high above that. And then most men cannot sing along, they’re singing in the basement and all that.
Jeff Deyo 6:48
Or you’re also when it comes to alto singers, you might have to pitch the song higher if it works for the singer and that will help the congregation. But that’s being proactive and trying to solve the problem before it becomes a problem.
Jeff Deyo 7:01
Then I would also just encourage people who are frustrated with these types of things, to just sing harmony. Now, not everybody knows how to sing harmony.
Jeff Deyo 7:09
But the bottom line, the Bible does not require that we sing perfectly as far as the congregation. The Bible does require though that we make a joyful noise. That’s all we’re really required to do. So if you can encourage your congregation to do that, and that you’re doing the best that you can to pitch things for the songs the right way, I think that will encourage them.
Jeff Deyo 7:33
Then when it comes to things like hymns, this can be controversial as well, right? I grew up with hymns. I gotta be honest, I don’t love singing them. You know some people who grew up with hymns get frustrated with how difficult it is to learn these new songs. I gotta be honest, I think the new songs are easy to learn, the hymns are hard to learn, even though I grew up with them.
Jeff Deyo 7:54
But that’s just my personal opinion. Everybody has different opinions on these things. Now, when it comes to hymns, though, since you’re trying to reach multi generations, you do want to try to reach across the aisle, you want to try to help encourage people that like hymns, right?
Jeff Deyo 8:09
So I would encourage you to sing a hymn every, now depends on your pastor’s vision, of course, but maybe that’s a hymn every one to two weeks. Maybe your pastor will say no hymns, or we need two hymns a week. I don’t know what your pastor is saying, but certainly follow the direction of your pastor.
Jeff Deyo 8:24
But then, you know, lovingly, do some songs that will reach across the aisle to help some people in different generations or different style preferences. When it comes to style, we do need to speak to the elephant in the room. Here’s the thing, we can’t please everyone, right? I mean, we do need to try to teach people to worship, regardless of the style.
Jeff Deyo 8:47
I mean, we know every song that is sung in church is not going to be one I love. Every song we do in church isn’t going to be in the key that I want to be in. We know that all the songs are not going to be in the style that I personally like.
Jeff Deyo 9:02
And we will talk more about this later in another module. But I just want to encourage you to train your teams, train your volunteers, and then talk to your congregation about this. Since we can’t please everybody all the time, then everybody should try to be flexible and learn to worship, regardless of the style. Right? At the end of the day, we know that it’s all about Jesus.
Jeff Deyo 9:28
Alright, so what about hazers and lighting? We’ll talk some more about this later as well. But what we’re not looking for is a show. But these creative elements can enhance the overall experience and bring honor to God.
Jeff Deyo 9:43
But we need to talk about these things with our congregation. Some people might not understand they’re like, why are you guys putting on a show? Why don’t we use lighting anyways?
Jeff Deyo 9:52
But we need to remember that we want to bless the production people and know that they’re a part, They’re using their gifts to glorify and worship God. So we’d help our congregation understand that they’re also using their gifts to worship the Lord.
Jeff Deyo 10:09
And then I would also encourage you with your team, when the congregation is not around to pray for the congregation, to bless the congregation, and do that with your worship team. You could do that at a rehearsal or right before service or any of those things, but it’s hard to be angry at people that you’re praying for and blessing, right?
Jeff Deyo 10:30
So if there’s people that are frustrated about you, and the way you’re doing worship, I would encourage you to bless them and pray for them. Maybe even go to Starbucks and get them a gift card and, and give it to them and just say, Hey, I was thinking about you. And just to kind of make the peace there.
Jeff Deyo 10:46
Okay. Number two, I want to encourage you as we think about receiving criticism from our congregation, that we need to be proactive in the way that we meet with our pastor. Right?
Jeff Deyo 10:57
I want to encourage you to meet with your pastor now ahead of time to establish his or her stance on these controversial issues. All those issues that I just went through, all those things.
Jeff Deyo 10:59
Your pastor will have an idea on all of those issues, and you want to understand where they stand, so that then you can communicate those things to your congregation, right? If there’s concerns from your congregation, you want to be able to say, Oh, I’ve talked with the pastor, and this is what the pastor is wanting. So you can communicate that.
Jeff Deyo 11:30
The last thing you want is to be able to give your personal opinion, and then find out later that that differs with your pastor’s position on this issue. So make sure you meet with your pastor now to establish his or her stance on these controversial issues.
Jonathan Hardy 11:45
Wow, that’s good stuff right there. Man, that is unbelievable.
Dick Hardy 11:48
Jonathan Hardy 11:48
And that’s really where people are at when it comes to the preferences people have with their style, their music. And you know, people come from different backgrounds, you have different cultures that affect their preferences, their upbringing affects their preferences. And then if you have young people and old people in the style of music. Just just generally speaking, it affects how they feel about music, as it relates to the worship music that we sing.
Jonathan Hardy 12:13
And so you know, earlier I mentioned that we actually have a free resource for you. It’s a free resource that’s going to help you to bridge the gap, when you have these different styles and music preferences, so that you can reach your congregation as best as possible, despite these differences that people have.
Jonathan Hardy 12:32
And I would encourage you to take a look at it, it’s going to help you navigate both the cultural differences, the generational differences that people have, so that you can have greater unity in your church with the musical worship that you sing.
Jonathan Hardy 12:50
And so you can get a free access to this PDF simply by going to Leaders.Church/Gaps, Leaders.Church/Gaps, and that’s going to help you bridge the gap between these different preferences and styles.
Dick Hardy 13:03
You’ll find this to be a very helpful piece, very easy to consume. And I think you’ll, regardless of your position at the church, you’re gonna find it very useful. In fact I, I just had a pastor down in Florida, drop me a note that they passed on this type of content to their volunteer worship leader to help that volunteer worship leader be able to be better at all that they do.
Jonathan Hardy 13:27
Now, I want to mention one of the things Jeff talked about that I think is just worth repeating. It’s simply that we need to meet the worship pastor and the pastor need to meet on some of these issues that can be hot button issues.
Dick Hardy 13:40
You gotta be together.
Jonathan Hardy 13:40
Because if you don’t, it creates disunity among among the pastor and worship leader, and then that infiltrates into the church. And one of the enemies greatest ways of causing churches to implode is when there’s disunity, and we want to protect unity as best we can.
Jonathan Hardy 13:40
And this is one of those areas. It’s just a hot button topic.
Dick Hardy 13:44
Jonathan Hardy 14:04
Because of the preferences of people and their style. And, and so be proactive in meeting and laying the groundwork for what does this look like? What’s the Church’s position? And if you don’t have a position, this would be a good opportunity to…
Jonathan Hardy 14:19
Jonathan Hardy 14:19
…to figure out, well, how do we approach this?
Dick Hardy 14:22
Exactly right. You know, this, again, is part one of the two part series that we’re doing on responding to criticism from your congregation. And I really hope you’ll stay tuned to the next episode, because I think it’s going to be very helpful to you as it continues on right from here.
Dick Hardy 14:39
Is there anything else on this, Jonathan?
Jonathan Hardy 14:40
Dick Hardy 14:41
Okay. Well, thanks for hanging out with us on this particular podcast. We’ll look forward to seeing you in the next one. Be blessed.