When a Congregation Resists a Worship Leader

Jamie Brown: Most worship leaders serve congregations who don’t exactly make it easy.

The dream of every worship leader is to serve a congregation who makes their job easy. They sing every song with gusto. They never complain or gripe. They learn every song after singing it once. They’re always just begging for more. It’s like you’re in heaven every Sunday. Freedom abounds.

I suppose these kinds of congregations exist, but my hunch is that they exist, blissfully, mostly in the dreams of delusional worship leaders.

The reality of most worship leaders is that they serve congregations who don’t exactly make it easy. There are weeks, and seasons, and years of painful slogging. There are particular people who seem to relish the opportunity to criticize you. Songs fall flat. Excellent musicians don’t exactly fall out of the woodwork. And as you look out over your congregation you get the distinct impression that they’re just not that impressed and they’re just not that into you.

Congregations can tend to be, in a word, resistant. And this is the phenomenon referred to as “reality”. Real people, the people who are actually sitting in the pews on Sunday mornings, tend to like to feel safe, and tend to want to avoid having their personal sovereignty threatened. And few things threaten the personal sovereignty of people more than heartfelt worship. It gets at our pride in a unique way that’s both good for us and painful for us at the same time.

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