How to Give A Worship Team Member Critical Feedback

How do we give negative feedback to a faithful team member? If a volunteer team member is doing something that we (or the congregation) doesn’t like, are we allowed to tell them? If so, how should we go about it? Andi Rozier and I answer this question for one of our Academy members. We also discuss speaking between songs, since that is the primary issue in question. Enjoy this episode and pass it on to a friend who would be helped by it!
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Alex | Hello and welcome to the Worship ministry training podcast. My name is Alex and Fijian. I’m so glad you are tuning in today. This podcast is for worship leaders and worship team members who want to improve in your craft and calling. And if you are a new listener, welcome. I want to encourage you to hit the subscribe button whether you’re watching on YouTube or listening to the podcast in your favorite podcast app. Why? Because every single month you will get a helpful, practical, in depth, topical teaching on worship ministry and how to improve your worship ministry. So go ahead, hit that subscribe button so you don’t miss any future episodes. Also, if you’re a new listener, check out all the past episodes from the last eight years. I want to encourage you. We’ve done tons of topics, tons of content, all for free. So check out the content library and just scroll back in time. Hit any episodes that you want to listen to that will help you in the season of your ministry. And if you are someone who is really hungry to grow and you desire to grow as a worship leader, I’m going to point you to the Worship Ministry Training Academy.

Alex | What is the Academy? It is basically a community filled with everything you need to build a thriving worship industry. Literally everything. We have ten in depth courses on topics like set building, team building, group communication, administrative systems. So we have courses, we have live monthly trainings on topics like wise boundaries in ministry because all these pastors are failing and falling. So monthly workshops, we have team resource documents. We have team discipleship materials for your worship team. So check out the academy. It is one dollars to try for 15 days. You get full access to play around for one dollars. And then after that, it’s just $29 a month. And that’s full access to everything. Literally. We have team member training materials for you. We have an onboarding process that’s already done for you. We have an audition process that’s already done for you. So it’s literally like if you need help in your ministry, this is the resource that you need. So go to Worship to check that out and to start your trial. And I hope to see you inside of the academy. Part of the academy is we do live interviews with experts.

Alex | So different worship leaders that you’ve probably heard of. Recently we’ve had Andy Rosier on from vertical Worship and Andy did a Q and A session. And so this month, instead of giving you one podcast episode, I’m going to be giving you three podcast episodes. We’re going to be breaking up the questions into single episodes. And in this second episode, our academy member is asking, how does she talk to a team member who is doing something that is actually not helping the worship experience? Like regularly doing the same thing? That’s actually a distraction. How does she have that conversation with that team member, and so Andy and I give her some advice. So let’s check out this Q and A, and then I’ll talk to you at the end.

Speaker 2I had a question. We have one guy on our team. He sings and he plays acoustic, and every single time he leads the song, he’s got something to say. He’s got, like, a little sermon, he’s got a little story, and it’s always like, at the start of the song or right before the bridge, and I’m fine if it’s God, I’m fine with it, but I go by, like, if God stops talking, you should too. And sometimes it just feels like he’s just talking. It doesn’t feel like it’s from God. I will handle that.

Andi RozierMy first question would be, who is his authority?

Speaker 2I’m the worship pastor, and then the pastors love us, so me good. That’s a trick question.

Andi RozierNo, it’s no trick questions, I promise. He’s a volunteer, and he reports to you. Basically, he’s underneath your care in the industry. Right back to what I just said before. I think you kind of have to firstly, just to serve yourself, you have to call it what it is, okay? That’s the first thing you have to do, or else you’ll never be able to help the guy unless you are actually kind of like sometimes he says things and they’re, like, really helpful, but other times I can tell this is kind of your stick. It’s your thing where you want to kind of say something beforehand. And what’s actually killing it is not where it’s rubbing a little bit for you. Is the repetitiveness of it. Not the fact that once every two months he kind of has something to say. And it’s kind of like.

Alex | Oh.

Andi RozierThat was great that you’re saying kind of every time he sings a song. There’s. Like. Something so what happens is becomes kind of a bit of the dripping tap. Where it’s just kind of like. Now we know that something is going to be said. And my disposition is always, as I’m sure yours is, to kind of give the person the benefit of the doubt, where they might not realize how repetitive it is. They might not realize that it’s losing its impact because of the repetitiveness. And we don’t want to assume everybody is just trying to kind of, like, manipulate space, and then it transitions, it moves across the road, unfortunately, to you, which is why I asked that question. I once had the saying leadership, good leadership is letting people down at a rate that they can handle. I don’t believe in auditions unless you’re willing to tell someone they can’t see. I don’t believe in auditioning a drummer unless I can tell him, hey, you can’t play on the click. I don’t believe in auditions of a musician unless I can tell them, actually, you’re not very good at what you do, because if we can’t be lovingly constructive to people, then it doesn’t serve them at all.

Andi RozierIt doesn’t serve the body. And so doing a little kind of study on this guy, maybe you know him really well already but like kind of finding it maybe kind of praying over kind of like what would be the way that he would receive a word from me. The best is pit stop number one. And then number two is kind of like sitting him down, not alone, just with you and him, but maybe with someone else on the team that you trust and just being like, hey, I love the things that you’re saying, but the repetitiveness of it is losing its value in the room. I’m the authority and my authority is to hold my hands like this, not hold my hands like this over you, but to hold my hands like this. And I’m not just serving you, but I’m serving the whole congregation. That’s what I was employed to do. That’s the position that I was put in in the ministry. And so I have to see the whole thing. And because of that, I have to make small decisions about some of the smaller things. And one of them is that I love that you tell a story before you sing a song or say something.

Andi RozierBut I’m cutting it down to once every eight weeks and then kind of allowing him to be kind of like this is where leadership is kind of like you don’t join the army to make friends. You join the army to go to war. And the war that we’re fighting is on behalf of the king. And it sometimes means kind of like telling the troops to fall in line a little bit because we’re trying to make you united front. And that’s a really hard thing to do in leadership. But it’s probably required in that moment. And last thing I’ll say is as much as you want to carefully approach it with him, it’s really important that he walks out knowing exactly what you are asking him to do without it being kind of vague.

Speaker 2But.

Alex | I have a tendency, I’m not afraid of telling people what needs to happen and giving clear direction. I tend to go about it much more like inquisitively by asking questions. And then it’s always like, I noticed this, I’m starting to sense this. So for example, in your context, like, hey, I noticed that every time you leave you say something. I have a sense that the congregation is kind of becoming routine for them and everything in life can become routine and when it does, people check out. And are you sensing that? Because I think I am sensing that and I’m seeing that in the body. And I’m going to suggest that we cut that back to once a month. Are you okay with that? And I kind of do it more open and but clear, but then at the very end if I need to come around and be like, hey, listen, I just need you to trust me in this. Like, I really think we need to do once a month or once every week. The way that Andy did it is there was a little part in what Andy was sharing that it makes me uncomfortable, but it’s actually right.

Alex | Basically, Andy, you said this is the way it’s going to be. And I’m, like, so afraid to do that to people. But I know that’s my problem, not an actual problem. And I think lately I’ve been learning that it’s okay for the leader to say, this is how it is. Just go with it. Get in line, and people feelings are a little bit hurt, and they maybe complain to their friends for three weeks, and then they get over it, and it’s fine. So I haven’t done much of the thing that the way that Andy described it, but I want to get better at that because sometimes you kind of need to let people feel a little bit of a sting. However, like I said, I’ve never done it in the past.

Andi RozierI mean, I’m the same dude. I hate confrontation. I hate it. But it’s part of leadership. It’s just kind of part of the package is what you sign up for. You can’t be a great leader unless you’re willing to confront. And I love what Alex said. And in the sitting here between the two of us just talking, like, as I’m shopping one man, shopping another, alex, you would do a much better job at it than I would because I’m maybe a little too kind of, like, direct, but the one thing I push back on is I don’t ask him at the end of the thing. Are you okay with that?

Alex | Right?

Andi RozierAs a leader, you kind of have to be like, I know that you’re not okay with it. That’s why you were doing it. You’re okay with talking before every song, and I’m not. And I think pastorally, the thing that I have to remember is that when you tell someone something, if they’re a very high emotive person, they feel like you’re telling them that they’re a bad person. If you go up to a vocalist who’s very emotive and tell them, hey, why don’t you sing that harmony instead of that harmony? They sit there thinking, he thinks that I’m bad at harmony, therefore he thinks I’m a bad person because that’s how the emotive person thinks. I’ve got some of that as well inside of me. And when people critique my songs, I’m like, they hate me. That’s what they’re saying. Even though that’s madness. It’s complete madness. And so to kind of, like, write a few notes down in preparation for a meeting where you can kind of remove the I’m not attacking you. That’s why I said just say to them, like, hey, I’m looking at the big picture here. You don’t have to look at the big picture, but I’m looking at the picture, and that’s why I get to make some little changes to a number of different things.

Andi RozierAnd this one is part of it.

Alex | Yeah. And I agree with you, Andy. What you said, your pushback against me, I submit to you, and I agree. So good.

Speaker 2It reminded me of one of your podcasts. I don’t remember who you were interviewing, but he said when you tell somebody, when you critique somebody, you’re like, I’m not saying that you suck because you’re still on the schedule. Like, you would be on the team if you suck.

Andi RozierYeah, right. Absolutely.

Alex | I believe in you. You’re great in all of these areas. I’m just asking you to tweak this one thing and try to reaffirm your love for them, but say, I’m just asking you to change this. Like, I have a guy that and some things you need to know when to let go. Like Andy said at the beginning, in terms of leadership, is letting people down at a race that they can tolerate. One guy that he’s one of my vocalists and harmony singers, and sometimes at the end of songs, his dynamic is wrong. Like, he’s singing hard when it’s like a down chorus and it’s supposed to be gentle. And it’s like, sometimes I’m like, I got to tell him that. And sometimes I’m like, I’m going to wait. And then like last night he did it again, and I’m like, Should I tell him? And I was like, literally the only person who probably thought of it is me. It didn’t affect the body at that point. Like, it didn’t interrupt their worship. It didn’t distract them. It’s just a preference thing on my end. It’s a growth area for him, and because it’s not becoming a distraction to the body, it’s not necessary to always critique him after every single time he sings.

Alex | So you kind of let some things go, and then when it comes up in a more prominent fashion, you’re like, okay, I need to address it because now it is starting to affect the flow of worship or whatever. You know what I mean? So it sounds like this guy needs to have a talking to, though.

Speaker 2Okay.

Alex | Yeah. Not like in talking, I feel like.

Speaker 2Sometimes God’s already using us through song, and he thinks he’s helping, but sometimes it just kind of cuts it off and brings us back to the natural. Because he starts talking.

Andi RozierYeah. Generally as a worship, I mean, just moving away from him specifically. I think it’s healthy practice in worship leadership to monitor how much you’re talking. And I often wonder, do I need to talk because I picked the wrong song? Am I talking because I’m trying to justify the song? Now, where you hear this the most is if you into a songwriting thing, everybody writes songs the whole day, and then they gather up and then they say now what this song is about is, here’s why we’re saying this thing. And that’s sweet in the moment, right? I know that. I’m not actually critiquing them for that. What I’m saying is that, like, there’s a part in the back of my head that I think you’re not going to get do that on stage. The song is going to have to stand up for itself. It’s going to have to be selfexplanatory. It’s going to have to be very, very clear enough for people to sing it back to God and not be full of little things that you need to explain. In the same way, when I plan a set, I observe my own nature of whether I’m talking too much or having to say something, because without even realizing, maybe I picked the wrong song.

Andi RozierAnd I could have picked a song that said what I’m trying to say better than the one that I picked, and then I wouldn’t have to set it up. And I did that to the point that some weekends I will walk out on stage and basically, besides just saying to everybody, good morning, church, let’s worship God together, I’ll run those songs without saying a word on the microphone and just kind of allow there’s nothing I can do to manipulate the spirit at all. There is no power that I have over the spirit of God. So if I just run these four songs and let the songs speak and the spirit speak through the songs, then it proves that it doesn’t need me. Just kind of like and here’s another little bit of commentary that I want to give. And I do that probably, like, I don’t know, maybe four or five times.

Alex | During the year where you don’t speak at all.

Andi RozierYeah, once every ten weekends. I feel like there’s a weekend that comes around and I’m like, Andy, shut up. Just stop talking. And then the following weekend, I’ll just run a set with no talking if I can, if I’m able to do that.

Alex | Yeah, but do you pray at the end of the set, though?

Andi RozierYeah, we do, like, prayers and stuff. But I’m talking about the worship leader comments.

Alex | Yeah, I rarely make those unless it’s, like, at the top of the set. Like, when I’m welcoming, the church just kind of set the table for them, then I’ll set the table, get their head space in the right space, and then off to the races. I’ll maybe, like, kind of pricing in between the end of one outro into the intro, the next one kind of, like, mingle them together, but not a lot of like, now we’re going to stop. And although I did introduce Egypt yesterday, I got the lead last night and introduced the song Egypt by Cory Asbury. And I did say, hey, this is a brand new song. It’s about this. I’m going to teach you the chorus. And now let’s sing it. I did do that. Yeah, for sure. But yeah. How does that help?

Speaker 2Monica, that’s really helpful. That’s some good stuff. Thank you.

Alex | All right, well, hopefully this episode was helpful to you. And again, I want to encourage you. If you are serious about growing in your craft or if you just need help to strengthen your worship ministry, check out the academy. It is designed to give you everything you need to build a thriving worship ministry. Look, you’re busy. You need to focus on leading your team, and let us focus on helping you do that well, we will give you all the tools and everything you need need to lead your team. Well, you focus on them will equip you, and everybody wins. So check out worship to sign up for the academy today. Hope to see you on the inside.

Andi RozierGod bless.