Help, I Inherited A Singer Who Can't Sing!
This month we will be doing a three-part Q&A series, answering listeners’ questions. This first episode addresses a common problem that many worship leaders face: Inheriting a team member (or multiple team members) who don’t have the musical skill to perform the task at hand. How do we as worship leaders help this beloved person understand that music ministry might not be God’s calling for their lives? Is there any hope that we can help them develop? In what other creative ways can we use them as part of the team? Brenton Collyer and Justin Bell join me this month to share their wisdom and insight. Enjoy the episode!

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Alex Enfiedjian 00:04 Hey everybody, welcome back to the worship ministry training podcast, a monthly podcast for worship leaders and worship team members. This month we’re doing something a bit different. About a year ago, we started taking questions from you, our listeners and answering those questions as little bonus episodes on the podcast. But I started doing that in the mountains when I had way too much time on my hands. But since moving to my new church in LA, things have been a lot busier. So the bonus episodes have been more sparse. So we still do the monthly episodes and always will. But I’ve cut back a lot on the bonuses but I’ve had three lingering questions that I haven’t had a chance to answer. So I wanted to use this month to finish off those questions. So this month, we’re doing three episodes. And we will answer each of those questions. And after that, I probably won’t do many other q&a episodes just because of the amount of time it takes to produce a podcast. But if you guys do have questions, I’m seriously open to you emailing me and I always respond and I’m happy to give advice on your questions and your problems because I just really do care about worship leaders and love helping worship leaders excel in their calling. Speaking of worship leaders, I have two really wise ones sitting on Skype with me right now I have Brenton Collier and Justin Bell What’s up guys? Hey there, Alex. Both of them have been on the podcast before and Brenton is up in Monterey as a worship pastor and Justin Bell quit worship leading and is full on in cryptocurrency investing. And he’s rich now. So and you’re like, what’s that? Well check it out. Google it. I wanted to say something real quick. Before we get into the question. Brenton Collier does blog for worship leaders at Brenton Collier calm and he also has an online mentorship that he began and is taking signups for that. So just check his website regularly to see when his next mentorship is. Alright. So today’s question comes from two listeners who are having the exact same problem. They have singers who they’ve inherited, who can’t actually sing. So let me read the questions from these two listeners guys. And then you guys can jump in and hopefully help them. So question number one comes from Buster Davis, who writes Hey, Alex, I recently took over the role as worship leader at my church, I have a singer that I believe doesn’t have the calling to sing on the team. But the singing positions were open to everyone before, how do I go about helping her find a different position to serve in or help enhance her tone when she is singing? Or what do we do in this case? So that’s one question a similar question from Mark hostettler. He asked this, I took over worship leading 14 months ago and I have a sticky situation, a singer on my team is not able to hit the pitch properly. And your harmonies are not quite there. It has caused a lot of division in the team because I feel like if we just invest in her and give her the resources to succeed, then she will get better and everyone will be blessed. But the others on the team are saying that if someone isn’t gifted or talented, then it’s just not what the Lord has for them. So three months later, she’s still not singing on key most of the time and the other singers are frustrated. I feel like I need to address the singing issue. But is this really an issue that disqualifies someone who has a heart to serve any help? Alright, guys, this is why have you wise folks on the podcast? What would you answer these two gentlemen?

Unknown Speaker 03:32 Well, it’s funny. I think as the years go by, as I’ve led worship, I’ve probably gotten like trended towards being more and more gracious, and how I approach people. And I don’t know why that is exactly. But I will say that there are a lot of different kind of shades of answering this question depending on the situation. Because if you’re brand new, and you just inherit a team, and someone isn’t singing, well, there’s some room to me with that person really get to the bottom what’s happening, maybe it’s a simple fix, you got to build a little bit of relationship with them, you know, that but the thing that caught my ear is man, 14 months is way too long. If you’ve known about someone that’s struggling on your team, and you haven’t approached them one on one for 14 months, that’s just way too long. If you’re talking about them with other team members, that’s not good. You know, don’t do that. You know if it’s a reoccurring issue, and you’re having these conversations, so I would say that’s why I say there’s different you know, if it’s right at the beginning or just meeting someone for the first time, you’ve heard him saying once you’re like, Oh, they can’t sing, you might approach it one way. But if more than a year has gone by, and this is a reoccurring issue, then you’ve just got to address it. And so, I think hopefully as worship leaders, everyone is listening. You are building relationships with your volunteers. They know that you care about them. They know that you are not just using them as a means to an end but that they’re a part of your your church family. So hopefully that groundwork has been laid in, then it’s just a matter of an honest conversation with that person. And not everyone who has the heart to sing or be on the platform in a leadership capacity. Should, that I think almost every season worship leader will tell you the same thing. I think every born again, believer has a part to play in the kingdom of God, everyone should be involved, everyone should be doing something. But part of the support that we have in the body of Christ is we have people to affirm our gifts and callings. But also to affirm what is not our gift and calling you know what I mean. And that’s part of the beauty of being a part of a church family. So coming to that person, letting them know, hey, we’ve done this for a while we’ve tried some things. It’s it’s just as the weeks have gone on, I’ve seen you in some different environments, trains in different parts, it’s consistently not lining up. So this just isn’t the spot for you. But let’s find a spot for you. You know, I mean, let’s find the best spot. So that’s why I’d say in that situation, if anyone’s listening, and they’re six months in on this scenario, man, don’t let it go any longer. Let’s just wait too long to let that kind of thing linger. Awesome, Justin.

Unknown Speaker 06:14 Yeah, I mean, I think that that’s First of all, that’s something that, you know, every worship leader deals with, and, and not only does this apply to a singer, but I’ve also had this experience with musicians. You know, there’s certain musicians that just are kind of operating at a lower level. And I think for me, two requirements that I always really looked to, when it came to worship leading being on a worship team was number one was spiritual requirements that they need to be a Christian, and that they need to have Christ like character. And the second requirement would be that they would be able to actually play music. Because, you know, if you had someone who is a great singer, and they fell away from Jesus, and were rebelling, you probably would remove them because of that. So when you have those standards in place, that’s a good first step. Another thing I would say is just kind of what Brenton was talking about the importance of being honest. I personally struggle with confrontation and conflict. So when I was younger, in worship ministry, I was the guy that was always giving it over to the Lord. And I would just let the Lord kind of take care of it. And the more that I’ve kind of grown and matured, I saw that as not so much as being gracious, but being immature not being honest, and sharing the truth in love. So that was something that I really started to learn to have those conversations like Britton was talking about, and I think something that can be a useful tool during that conversation, is to put really clear steps to kind of put the ball in their court. So maybe you say, you know, hey, I really think that you need some improvement with your harmonies or with your tones. So I’d like to see you take, you know, lessons for three months, and then let’s talk again, I think it’s important that you put the ball in their court, because if the conversation is, hey, you’re not cutting it, sorry, you’re off the worship team, then they’re going to always think that you’re mean. But if you gave them clear steps to be restored back into it, like saying, Hey, take some lesson, and then let’s meet for another audition, then it’s on them to go through those steps, and they’re not harboring that bitterness against you. And the last thing I would say is, it’s super important to have a culture of feedback in your ministry, that even the best people that that you’re telling them, you know, hey, I think you’re doing a really good job. But you’re kind of over playing on this song a little bit, or I’m not sure about you singing during this part, or, you know, I just want to let you know that sometimes you’re a little flat, I’d like you to start working on that. And then ask them for feedback. What can I do better? And when there’s that culture already in place of feedback, it makes it a lot easier to have this conversation.

Alex Enfiedjian 08:57 Yeah, I agree with all of that. And I really feel for a lot of worship leaders who have inherited team members, because I’d say 90% of the time when a worship leader comes to a new church, they’re inheriting a group of people, like it’s very rare that they come just by themselves only maybe a church plant situation, or the rare occasion where there just isn’t a team and you’re building a team from scratch, which is a beautiful thing, because you get to literally set the pace for that. But most of us, including myself, recently have inherited musicians, I inherited 20 or so musicians at my new church, some of whom are excellent and really great, and some of which need work, and all of whom need to adjust to the new style of music that we’re doing underneath my leadership. So it’s really like taking a group of people and leading them somewhere. So it’s it’s not an easy thing. It’s very hard. I have a few thoughts I would say to both Buster and mark that you guys are right to want to develop people and invest in people. That is our job is to just help people grow and thrive and improve. And sometimes it means developing them in a place that is not causing a distraction. So these singers need development, yes, but that doesn’t mean you should develop them on the platform. You know, it might be like Justin said, Go take personal lessons or come, you know, an hour before service and meet with me, you know, and maybe some, some other person, if it’s a female, you know, meet with me, and we’ll practice together, or, hey, let me record you singing so you can hear yourself. So you really do want to develop people. But it doesn’t always have to be as part of the team per se, maybe send them to a choir or another ministry, where they’re like gifting is suited for that. The other thing that I would say is, as the leader, particularly to mark who has a team of people who are frustrated with the lack of performance by this lady is you have the job to protect the entire team from the One team member who’s causing issues, whether it’s intentional or not, like, you can either have a frustrated team, or one frustrated singer. So you kind of have to pick your poison on that one. But I think it’s your job to protect the team. And so like these guys said, it’s time to confront the person not in a harsh way, but in a truthful, loving way, with positive feedback of what she does well, and areas that you’d like to see growth in and then give some action steps to do that, a couple thoughts that I had four other ways to use people. Because I, my old church, there was a woman who couldn’t sing really particularly. But she added value in a different way. And my senior pastor would say, Well, she still is valuable to the team, because she’s a familiar face, like you have a bunch of new faces up there. But this lady has been a part of our church for 14 years. So she bridges the gap to the congregation between the old and the new. And I would like you to keep her on stage. Because she adds that value, we’ll just turn her microphone down. And she had great stage presence. So you know, we were like, okay, you know, we compromise there, because in that situation, she added a different value. So that’s one way to assess the situation. The other way is maybe just find a different place for her to serve. Like, for example, maybe she’s like, really good at hospitality and loves to bring food or loves to help plan events. And you could ask her, Hey, can you be a part of this team by planning events or bringing food, or maybe you want to run the lyrics, since you know, the songs and your musical, you know, you already know the songs, or maybe she has administrative gifts that she can like, schedule the teams or print the song. So don’t just throw her away completely try to find the right place for her to serve. But also don’t be afraid to have those hard conversations. So that those are some of my thoughts. You guys have any kind of thoughts to wrap it?

Unknown Speaker 12:47 Yeah, you know, I thought it’s something else, you know, I’m reflecting on, you know, like, I was saying it was harder for me to have these conversations when I was younger. And I viewed them in such a negative light, but it’s actually a very positive thing to share with someone that they’re not where they’re supposed to be. And I was just thinking, you know, try to put yourself in this person’s shoes. If you were doing something that you know, you thought, you’re great, you know, we’ve all seen those episodes of auditions for American Idol. You know, it’s like, there’s this really humbling thing. But this really powerful thing, when you find out that you’re not in the right place, and you’re sharing that with someone might actually help them to be led towards an area where they can really thrive, and they can really shine, you know, the scriptures are really clear that God gives all of us at least one gift. And if they’re not functioning in a place that is their gift, you can actually give them an incredible gift by leading them somewhere where they fit better.

Unknown Speaker 13:49 Yeah, that’s so good. I totally agree with that. And I would just, you know, add to that, again, by just saying, you know, I know those conversations are uncomfortable, but think about what’s happening when you don’t have that conversation. You know, maybe you’re kind of dread when that person is on the team, and then they show up, they’re gonna sense that you know, or if they’re not, and then you finally let them know, then they’re gonna think back on all those weeks and think, oh, did you not want me here this whole time, I just had no idea. And especially if they find out that there’s been conversations happening about them, you know, that’s really gonna hurt someone’s feelings, probably more than just coming to them. And that the initial PR of hearing you know that it’s not a good fit for them. So keep that in mind. A couple tips for those hard conversations. One, I like to actually write out specifically what I’m going to say to somebody, if it’s over the phone, I’ll have my notes there. If not, I’ll try to memorize it. But that helps me really distill and clarify what I’m going to say. And to get to it quickly. Don’t beat around the bush. Don’t say it in a roundabout way. If they haven’t sung on pitch consistently for the last three months. say those words. Exactly. And that’s hard to do. But that’s just going to be clear and helpful. And I’ve always found that as much as I might, you know, kind of hurt someone’s feelings, they’ll still, I really most times respect you and feel like, Okay, that makes sense whether they agree or disagree, at least they know because you don’t want to leave someone leave, they leave the conversation, and they’re like, what was it that I didn’t do? Well, and why wasn’t this a good fit? And so what am I supposed to do? Now, you don’t want any of that you want to write it out? Be clear, be loving, and that’s gonna really go a long way.

Alex Enfiedjian 15:33 Awesome. Yeah. And we will actually do an episode this year about how to have hard conversations. So I’ll have you guys back on for that one. All right. That’s our first q&a this month. The next ones coming up in a week. See you guys then