3 Ideas to Deal With It
Remember music is one of the two most volatile areas of ministry (Children/youth is the other.) Don’t be surprised when people get reactive about the music ministry.)
The above is one of the tips from my eBook 111 Tips to Survive Music Ministry. Let me unpack it a bit…
Rabbi Edwin Friedman used to say, “Satan jumped out of heaven and into the church choir.” He meant that music was a natural focus for people’s anxiety. You could just as easily substitute “worship team” for “choir.” The same dynamics are at work. Somehow people get worked up about music at church, just as they do about children’s ministry.
You can assess people’s maturity by how they are able to deal with difference, including music they don’t like. If someone says, “How can you dare to include music like that in our worship!” that’s one kind of response. If they say, “I prefer [fill in the blank on the type of music],” that’s another. People who are able to define themselves without insisting others agree with them are functioning at a higher level. Note: they are better candidates for leadership. It doesn’t matter what kind of music you are talking about, it’s the process of dealing with difference that is important.
I always appreciated about my own parents that they were able to accept other kinds of music, even if they weren’t crazy about it. One of their principles was that it was critical for the church to reach out to younger people. They preferred traditional music, and my father sang in the choir until his late 80s. But my mother said, “We’ve got to have music the young people like, too.” Their peers didn’t always agree with them.
What’s a leader to do? Here are three ideas:
1. Don’t get defensive when people get upset. Don’t get reactive to their reactivity. This is one of the most important tasks of leadership. Be clear about your own principles, and the vision and plan the leadership has for worship and music. But you don’t have to get defensive, or convince other people to sign up for that vision. In fact, the more you try to convince them, the more likely they are to dig in their heels. People resist being willed to change.
2. Get curious. Ask individuals about their story with church music. Ask them how they came to their position. Ask them what their favorite music is, and why it means so much to them. And notice what you see about music in church life. What is the history of music in your church, and what has happened over time when changes have come? Do the same people get upset, or does it change from time to time? What do you notice about pastors and other staff members and how they respond?
3. Finally, be patient. If you and the rest of the leadership team stay calm yourselves and give people time, chances are they will calm down. Some may never like what you are doing—recognize that the least mature may always be cranky about it. Think about them as “the loyal opposition” rather than simply obstructionist. And give people months, even years, to embrace a major change.
Have you discovered other ideas that work to mitigate music upset? Please share in the comments below.
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