Every one of your team members has sin in their life (including you!) but where does it cross the line to where someone should no longer be serving on the worship team? How should we address the issue, and is there a process of restoration we can follow to return the team member to service? What does all this look like in practice? These are some of the questions we will be answering in today’s episode. If you are a worship leader wanting wisdom on how to deal with this delicate issue, or simply a team member wanting to better understand your spiritual responsibility to your church, this episode is for you!
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Your team members are not just musicians to fill slots, but people to pastor – Tweet That!
Taking someone off your team for a time is a restorative process, not a punitive process – Tweet That!
When a team member sins they need to: Repent, Reflect, Rest and Restore. – Tweet That!
Worship team members should be held to the same biblical standard as deacons, since functionally they are deacons! – Tweet That!
Alex Enfiedjian 00:11 Hello, and
Alex Enfiedjian 00:12 welcome back to the worship team podcast. My name is Alex Enfiedjian. I am your host today, I wanted to say thank you to my listeners for your patience in releasing this episode, I took about a two month break from releasing new episodes to just focus on my family and get my priorities straight. And just let the Lord work in my heart and life. So thank you for your patience. And I am excited to be back to release new, great, helpful, practical content to you. This podcast is for worship leaders and worship team members. I just want to help equip you to be the best you can possibly be that you might better bless your local church. So that’s why we do what we do. I’m glad to be back. Thanks for your patience. Let’s get right into episode number eight. Very excited about this episode, because it’s about a sucky topic. It’s about what to do when a team member sins. And I’m excited because there’s not a lot of content out there that kind of gives guidance on this. And so I’m hoping this episode will help some of you leaders who are facing this very uncomfortable, awkward, difficult situation on how do I deal with my team member who has fallen into sin. And so if your worship leader, this is for you. But also if your team member wanting to better understand your worship leaders role as a shepherd This episode is also for you. And hopefully it’ll just give you as a team member. A good understanding of the spiritual responsibility that you have to take care of your soul as a leader in the church. So let’s jump right in to the topic. Alright, On today’s episode, we’re talking about what to do when a team member sins. What do you do when your team member falls into sin? Do you remove them from the team? Do you rebuke them? in private? Do you take the easy way out and ignore it? let it slide pretend like it never happened. Hope that it was a one time thing. How do you tell? How should you react? Hopefully, by the end of the episode, you’ll have answers to all these questions and more. But in all honesty, I actually hope you never even have to listen to the show all the way through to the end of this episode. I hope you never have to use the information found in this episode. Because it’s super heartbreaking. And just so sad when someone you care about someone you lead someone on your team falls into destructive sin. But if you’re honest with yourself, and if you’ve been in ministry for any length of time, you know that unfortunately, all of the people we Shepherd fall into sin at some time. And sometimes it’s a pretty big deal and needs to be dealt with. So hopefully this podcast episode will resource you in some wise and practical ways that you can handle the situation when it does happen because it will happen. And before we talk about specific do’s and don’ts of how to handle the situation, I think it’s more important that we do some foundational work upfront, because without the foundational work upfront, you won’t be able to have the conversation later. So foundation number one that we’re starting with today is this and I know this is controversial. And you might disagree with me. But foundation number one is only Christians should be on worship teams. Only Christians should be on worship teams. And again, I know that’s controversial, but it’s my conviction and my understanding from scripture that everyone on the worship team should be a worshiper. Okay? Every single player doesn’t matter if they’re on bass or drums or singing. Everyone who’s on a worship team should be a worshiper. And since Christians are the only ones can who can worship in spirit and in truth, it would follow that only Christians can be on a worship team. So I know there are many good worship leaders out there who would disagree with me and who have non Christians on their worship teams. Maybe it’s an outreach to the musicians in the community. And that’s fine for them. But my conviction and my understanding is that those who are in church leadership, and by the way, being a worship musician, his church leadership, those who are in church leadership are Christians. And one practical reason why I feel strong The only Christian should be on the worship team is because everyone on the stage,
Alex Enfiedjian 05:04 whether you’re on the base, or behind the kid, or a singer up front, or a leader, if you’re on stage, you are a leader, you are a worship leader. You are on a platform. So right or wrong, people are going to look at you as an example. And not just an example during the worship songs, but also off the stage out in life. So just imagine for a second that you’re a new Christian in church, or some new Christian from your church is walking down Main Street in your town, and he looks in the window of the local Brewing Company, and he sees your church’s electric guitar player who’s not a Christian drinking beers, obviously, slightly buzzed and flirting with all the waitresses. So now this new Christian, who’s been coming to your church is looking through the window going, Oh, that guy. He’s on stage every Sunday leading us in worship? Oh, so this kind of behavior must be okay for a Christian. So right there, you just confused the new Christian, because he’s looking at the guy who’s not a Christian, as an example, in worship and in life, so don’t put non Christians on your team. I don’t, I mean, you can. But that’s why I don’t put non Christians on my team, because they by default, are examples to those in the congregation. That’s just the practical reason. I think there’s a biblical case for not having non Christians lead worship or play as a worship team musician. And that’s found just in the Old Testament, if you think about who were the musicians, and worship leaders in the temple of God, only believe it and the priests, okay, they didn’t hire Joe from down the street, to play the liar. Because he was a great liar player, no, they trained pastors, priests, these lead lights, they trained them in the work of the Lord, and then also in music. So all the people in the Old Testament who led worship week after week, and day after day, and year after year, they were priests, they were the people of God. I think that’s a pretty strong biblical argument for only having the people of God play on your teams. But hey, like I said, I know there are differing views on this. And I would love to learn from you why you choose to put non Christians on your team. So honestly, no judgement, click on the comments link, click on the show notes link and leave a comment for all of us so that we can dialogue about this and learn from each other. But foundation number one for me is that only Christians are on my worship teams. Because then you can actually have conversations about sin, and falling short of what God has called them to if you can’t hold a non Christian to the standard of a Christian. So if you have non Christians on your team, you can’t even bring this topic up. It’s a moot point. So foundation number one, only Christians on the worship team. foundation number two that I think we need to lay down is everyone sins, okay? Everyone, the best pastor in the world still has lingering sin in their life. I do you do we all do it. In first, john one, it says if anyone says there without sin, they make God to be a liar. Okay, if anyone says there without sin, the truth is not in that person. Everyone has sin, every musician you’ll ever audition from now, till the time that you stop being a worship leader will have some lingering sin patterns in their life. I’m not saying that you can only have sinless musicians on your team, because then you wouldn’t net never have a team. You have zero players on your team because you don’t even qualify for that. So what are we looking for then? In musicians? We are looking for musicians who are striving and growing in godliness. They’re striving towards godliness, and they’re growing in godliness. They’re not perfect. They’re not sin less, but they are striving towards and growing in godliness. And I think a good way to think about your musicians on your team
Alex Enfiedjian 09:47 is that it’s a church leadership role. Because like I said earlier, it is just by default, standing on the stage, you become a leader in the church. And if you think about the Bible, Quality qualifications for a leader, particularly deacons, because a deacon in Greek means a servant. And that’s what your team members are doing. They’re serving in the church in the role of music. So if you look at that, and say, Okay, if they’re a servant in the church, if they’re a deacon in the church in music, then they should meet the biblical qualifications for a deacon found in Scripture, which is First Timothy three, it’s not super crazy. It’s not like they have to be these theological experts. It’s just, they’re dignified. They’re not devious in their speech. They’re not a drunkard. They’re not greedy. They hold to the faith with a clear conscience. They love their spouses, they manage their families well. Now, again, these people aren’t going to be perfect in all of these areas, but they’re going to be growing in them. It’s like, the apostle Paul tells Timothy, be diligent in these matters. Give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. And that’s the key word there progress, not perfect, but progressing, and godliness. So that’s what you’re looking for. That’s the second Foundation, you’re looking for team members who are growing in godliness. So again, number one, all Christians, number two, growing and godliness. Those are the kinds of people you want to put on your team. Because then you can have the conversation later, when they fall into sin. If you don’t have these expectations up front, you can’t have this conversation later, because you never talked about it upfront. So what we do at Cypress is we actually give prospective team members a sheet of paper with a list of things we’re looking for in them. And the very first thing on that list of things that we’re looking for is godliness. We want this person to be someone who lives a life that seeks to honor God in everything. And I’ve actually had people who were interested in playing on the music team. But after they read the the list, they said to me, You know, I’m actually more interested in playing music than living for God. So I probably won’t be a good fit for your team and the culture you’re trying to create. And wow, how, how interesting is that, that they had a moment of clarity. And I was able to shepherd that person and let them discover for themselves, where their heart was at. So upfront, we’re looking for godly Christian people. And they know that coming into it, and so that later, when they fall, which hopefully they don’t, but they probably will, eventually one of them or two of them, or however many, when they fall, you have something to point back to, you can’t have that back conversation, if you don’t have those two foundational building blocks in in place, and in the front, and of your entry process. So with those two foundations in place, we can move forward. Let’s say you’ve done this, those things, everyone on your team is a Christian is living their lives, to bring honor and glory to God and then boom, one of your team members falls into serious sin. First of all, what is serious sin? Right? Like? What’s the difference between what’s acceptable sin and what serious sin? I mean, we all have sin in our lives to varying degrees. And we’re all covered by the grace of Christ at all times. When does a particular sin cross the line into needing to be dealt with by the worship leader? When does a particular sin cross that line and need to be dealt with? Well, I think the key to answering this question is understanding that it’s a heart issue, when the sin or the pattern of sin reveals that the heart has stopped worshipping Christ in that area, it needs to be dealt with.
Alex Enfiedjian 14:11 All sin is just the external playing out of the heart issue. So if someone falls into a more serious sin, it’s simply revealing that in their heart, Jesus has been kicked off the throne in that area, and he’s no longer the object of worship in that area. Something else is being worshipped, which is what the sin is revealing externally. And so that’s when you know, oh, man, my team members heart has wandered from Christ. They are no longer worshipping Christ as Lord in this area. I have to deal with it because you’re their Shepherd, you’re their leader, and you want to help them get back to a life of proper worship. So again, it’s a heart issue and when the sin In is revealing that the heart is no longer worshipping Christ. That’s when we need to step in for intervention. And how does this look like in actuality? How does it look in real life? flesh and bones? Well, I’d say, if the sin is continual and unrepentant, when the team member has stopped fighting against it, when they’ve become okay with it, when it’s habitual, what so whether it’s gossip, or pornography, or sex outside of marriage, if the person has been confronted with the wickedness of the sin, whether by the word of God or by another Christian, pointing it out, or by their own conscience, and they refuse to deal with it, then it’s your job as the leader to help them deal with it. Because ultimately, your team members are not just musicians to fill slots, but people to pastor let me say that, again, your team members are not just musicians to fill slots, but people to pastor. So if it’s continual unrepentant, if they’re not fighting against it, if it’s revealing that their heart has stopped worshipping Christ in a particular area, and also to that list, I would say sexual sin gets a special place in Scripture, it really does. It’s dealt with differently than other sins by the New Testament authors, I think it’s dealt with more harshly and more regularly, because it’s more destructive in nature, to the people who are committing the sin, and to the body of Christ. And so I would say if someone on your team is in sexual sin, right there, you have the grounds and the need to talk to them about it. Really, you’re shepherding your team, you want this person who has fallen, who has gotten off track in their relationship with Christ, you want them to repent, and be restored. And that takes time. You know why? Because it’s a heart issue. So most of the time, it’s going to mean that this person needs a break, they need a period of time, to not be serving to not be standing on the stage leading worship, to reflect on their heart. Really, you’re saying, brother, sister, how did you get so far down the line away from Jesus, we need to take some time, we need to put pause, we need to timeout and figure out what went wrong, and how to get back on track. So let’s take a break. So how I’ve dealt with it. And then we’ll get into some practical do’s and don’ts. how I’ve dealt with it is when someone on my team falls into a more serious and again, more serious just means, whoa, Something’s definitely wrong in their heart. When their hearts have wandered from worshipping Jesus, I will have a conversation with them in person, and we’ll get into that later. And then I’ll pull them off the schedule, I’ll say, Look, I’m going to take you off the schedule for a time. And during that conversation, I want them to understand very, very clearly that I’m doing this because I care about them. Taking someone off your team for a time. is a restorative process, not a punitive one. Let me say that again, taking someone off your team for a time is a restorative process, not a punitive process. It’s a restoration, not punishment. It’s not like, we’re going to punish you for doing this evil thing. So we’re going to take away this thing that you love to do. And no, that’s not at all what it’s like, again, it’s like, brother, a sister, my heart is grieved, that your heart has gotten so far down the line away from Jesus, how can we fix this? How can we get back on track? Let’s take some time. Let’s do a timeout, let’s do a pause, stop the train. Let’s figure out what went wrong, where it went wrong. And let’s get back on track to worshiping Jesus with our lives.
Alex Enfiedjian 19:06 And when you think about it in that way, all of us have had times where we’ve needed to pause and reflect. In fact, when I put a pause on producing new podcast episodes, it was for that very reason. I was like, man, my heart is messed up. My priorities are messed up. And I put a break on my podcast because it was something extra extra activities. I needed to get rid of all the extra things and deal with my heart and repent and reflect and rest and restore. I think those four R’s are what we are trying to do. When we take our team member off the schedule, repent, reflect, rest, and restore. And that’s what you want to help this person understand when you’re having this conversation, that you care about them, that you want to help them that you You’re just they need time to deal with this. And so you’re giving them that space and that time, and that you’re going to be there with them to walk through the restorative process. Okay, so let’s talk practically about some do’s and don’ts. How should you handle this conversation? How should you handle this process of taking someone off the team, I have 1-234-567-8910 11 do’s and don’ts for you ready? Number one, do have an upfront policy of honesty with your team, do have an upfront policy of honesty with your team. So just while you’re bringing members on your team, when they’re joining, ask them to be honest with you. Ask them to always feel free to tell you the truth. I say to them, Look, if you ever fall in a significant way, when you’re on on the team, please tell me, I’m not going to judge you. I don’t want to be mean to you. I want to help you in your relationship with God, and help you get back on track. So just always feel free to tell me I don’t care what you did, or what you’ve done, I’m not gonna judge you, I just need to know where you’re at, because I care about your soul. And another thing I do is during the interview process, before they’ve joined the team, I actually asked them, is there anything in your life right now that would disqualify you from being in church leadership. And I don’t always do this one. But I try to remember to ask the young man, where are you at in your fight for sexual purity? Whatever, you know, whatever you have to do up front, so that your team members know that you care about these topics, and that you’re there for them to talk about these things, and that you’re not going to judge them. When they do talk to you. You need to make sure that that honesty upfront, is part of your team’s fabric in how they relate to you as the leader. So do have an upfront honesty policy. Do number two, tell the other pastors in confidence, confidentiality, Okay, tell the other pastors why so they can pray for you. So that they can pray with you for wisdom, and so that they can give you wisdom and counsel on how to best deal with the person and the situation other wise, godly men telling you knowing about what’s going on. And being able to tell you how to interact with that situation is going to be a benefit to you. So do tell the other pastors in confidence. Number three, do talk to the team member in person, exclamation point, exclamation point in person, talk to them, do not have this conversation over the phone, do not have it over email to not have it over text. Don’t even make me talk about Twitter, do it in person, write down the key points, this is a tip, write down the key points on a piece of paper and hold it in your lap. So that when you’re having this awkward conversation that you want to be over as quickly as possible, you don’t shy away from the key points. I used to try to people please and you know, but if I write it down, these are the reasons why we’re having this conversation, then it helps me go through and be honest and not miss anything. So write down the key points, have the conversation in person. Which leads me to my next point, don’t try to blame it on something else. You know, it’s easy to try to skirt the issue. We don’t want to be the awkward guy or the mean guy. He says so we kind of cover up the actual issue by saying I’m going to take you off the team because you’ve been consistently late for a couple weeks or your notes have been flat lately, etc, etc. That’s not the issue. And doing that blaming it on something else is not actually helping this person’s soul.
Alex Enfiedjian 23:58 So deal directly and lovingly with the root of the issue the sin in question. Don’t try to blame it on something else. Do tell the person that it’ll remain confidential between you them. And the pastoral staff. Just tell them who knows? Because it’s so horrible for that person to walk around the church campus wondering, does she know? Does he know? Do they know? Are they judging me? Are they looking weird to me? You just be upfront say, Look, I know. You know, my wife knows, and the pastors know. And that’s all who needs to know. And that’s all who are going to tell no one else. We’re not going to tell you what if you decide to tell someone else you can do that. But we aren’t going to tell anyone. So just tell them do tell the person that it will remain confidential between you them and the pastor’s. That way they know who knows that’s helpful for them as they wander around church campus. Don’t tell the person how you found out Don’t tell them how you find out they don’t need to know. Just remind them that it’s God’s grace, that he let them be found out. Instead of letting them stay stuck in secrecy and in the continuation of this deadly disease, he graciously revealed their sin, so that they didn’t have to keep living in it. He, in grace in love, decided for it to come out into the open so they could deal with it. They don’t need to know how it came out in the open, they just need to know, thank God that it did. So I don’t have to hide in this junk any longer. And if you know, if they ask Who told you or how you found out, just say, I’m sorry, you don’t need to know. Because if they find out someone on the team told you, it’s going to cause issues between them. And that person, it might even cause division on your team. So don’t tell them how you found out. don’t condemn when they tell you when you talk about it. in your office, don’t sit there and have a high, snooty nose up attitude. I can’t believe you did this. You’re such a sinner. No, man, just, you’re a sinner, too. We’re all broken, we all screw up. And so just relate to them in that manner. You know, I’m so sorry, you fell in this area, remind them that all of us are sinners and remind them, remind them, especially of God’s grace in the Gospel, and point them to the cross. I mean, now of all times is not the time for condemnation, but love, point them to Jesus, and make sure that they know you love them and are there to support them. don’t condemn love. Don’t tell the team. Don’t tell the team members, they don’t need to know. It’s not their place to know. If they ask why so and so hasn’t been scheduled lately. You can just say, yeah, you know, they’re working on some stuff in their relationship with the Lord and they wanted some time off, they needed some time off to process. And if they didn’t want time off, they needed time off. So just say they needed time off to process. That’s the truth. And that’s all your team members really need to know. Do pair them up with a mature team member of the same gender, do pair them up with a mature team member of the same gym gender. Now I know I just told you don’t tell the team. But when you’re having this hard conversation with the person, ask them say Is there anyone on the team you would feel comfortable with knowing about this so that they can walk with you through this process. And if they say yeah, I’d love to meet with so and so. Then get together with the three of them and start them on a journey where this third party person can be there, they’re the same gender, so it’s safe.
Alex Enfiedjian 27:42 They can be there to talk through the issues. They can be there to pray for this person, they can be there to check in regularly with this person. And it’s all appropriate and above reproach, because it’s the same gender. So this is like so important. If you can get this person in your office to agree to have someone on the team walk with them through the restorative time period. That is like pure gold. So try to get a mature member of your team to disciple this person. And encourage them and pray with them. Okay, to more do check in and regularly encourage the person, just text email call, Hey, how you doing? I’m praying for you. Send them a Bible verse. Just let them know you care and ask them how you can be praying for them. What you don’t want to happen is you don’t want them to feel like, Oh, my leader cut me off from the team. And he’s forgotten about me, I’m chopped liver, he doesn’t care. Now you want them to know that you’re still in relationship with them. And that you are going to walk with them continually through the end of this process. And how long is the end of this process? Well, that’s the last don’t don’t set a timeline. Don’t set a timeline. However long it takes for this person to get healthy. And to be ready to stand on the platform and worship Jesus with all their heart. That’s how long it’s gonna take. You know, for some people, that might be two weeks. For some people that might be a month. For some people that might be a year. But however long it takes for them to reflect, repent, rest, and restore their walk with God. That’s how long it’s going to take. So don’t set a timeline. And I know some of you are like, but that’s my electric guitar player. What am I going to do? You know what God cares more about your electric guitar player soul than about how your band sounds on Sunday. So take care of him. The person not the sound of the music, because I think I said it earlier and if I didn’t, I should have your team members are not just musicians to fill slots, but people to pastor so don’t set a timeline for me. When I took off from producing the podcast, I actually told my wife, look, honey, you decide when I can start again, I want you to, to say, when you think that I’ve had enough time to reflect, and when you feel like I’m healthy, and ready to start again. And we checked in about it from time to time. And finally, she gave me the green light. And I’m back with you today. So thanks, honey. And you should thank my wife, for letting me continue. But do the same exact thing with your team member, just say, look, we’re not going to timeline but I’m going to check in with you regularly. And we’ll both keep our pulse on your heart and your soul and your walk with Jesus. And when both you and I feel ready, then we’re going to dive back in with both feet, we’re going to just take off from where we left off. But let’s just both keep our pulse on this and see how you you’re doing because it’s gonna take different for this person and that person in this sin and that sin, especially sexual sin, it just takes a long time to heal. So just don’t set a timeline. That’s super important. Those are, those are the do’s and don’ts. The practical things, let me read them to you one more time. Do have an upfront honesty policy with your team. Do tell the other pastors in confidence, do talk to the team member in person. Don’t try to blame it on something else. Do tell the person that it will remain confidential between you and them and the pastor’s. Don’t tell them how you found out. don’t condemn love. Don’t tell the team do pair them up with a mature Christian of the same gender. Do check in regularly. Don’t set a timeline. So hopefully, those are helpful and will help you handle this delicate conversation. Now, if some of you are listening, and you have more thoughts to add, please Like I said, click on the show notes, click on the comment section and let us learn from you. I have a couple of final thoughts just about this topic, before we wrap up.
Alex Enfiedjian 32:08 It’s it’s super, super important that you have a good relationship with your team members for this conversation to even remotely go well, okay. If your team members don’t know that you love them, and are thankful for them and you care about them, there’s like very little chance that this conversation is kind of go well. So right now, if everything’s gravy on your team, just make sure you’re working hard to have a good relationship with your team members. And then when something comes up, you’ll be able to shepherd their hearts and point them back to Christ when when they wonder because we all wonder. And I hope that if you are listening, and you’re in this situation right now, I hope and pray that you take the hard step and have this conversation. And that it goes really well and has an awesome redemptive, Grace filled outcome. But they don’t always go well. And I’ll just give you three scenarios that could possibly come out of having this conversation. Worst case scenario is that this team member chooses their sin over the Lord. In which case you can’t feel guilty for that because they were already headed down the cliff, down the road barreling 100 miles an hour, and you were simply acting as the final barrier trying to stop them from driving off the edge. So that’s the worst case scenario. The second worst case scenario would be that they leave the church and find somewhere else to serve, in which case, they’re not letting God deal with the sin that he brought up so graciously through this confrontation. So they’re probably going to repeat it again at the next church. And if they did leave, if I were you, I would call the church that they’re going to, in order to let the worship leader there know how they left and why they left. And if that worship leader is wise and discerning, they’ll take that information to heart and continue to disciple that person there. Because the body of Christ needs to work together to disciple people. But the best case scenario, which is what I’m praying for you is that this team member will humbly take the rebuke to heart, they’ll repent. They’ll go through a time of seeking the Lord and recommitment of their private worship of him. And then they’ll join the team again, and serve with a renewed passion and a renewed gratefulness of Christ’s forgiveness. And that is what I’m praying for you when you have this conversation. So that’s it for today. I pray God will richly bless you as you Shepherd your people and help them stay on the straight and narrow and difficult path of being a disciple. And I would encourage you as a leader to live in an open and transparent life with someone else who can Shepherd your heart because all of our hearts are wicked and prone to wander like mine. So that’s where we’re gonna actually be talking about in the next podcast, which we’ve already recorded. So that’ll be coming out in two weeks. And that’s gonna be on transparency, humility, brokenness and on authenticity as a leader, so look for that. But God bless you as you serve your local church. You are doing the most important work in the world. Do not be discouraged and press on in Christ. Have an awesome Sunday. And may Jesus be lifted high in your congregations.
Alex Enfiedjian 35:30 God bless