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Worship WARS: The Problems and How to Fix Them

Before we even get started, please know this isn’t a slam against any style of music in the church.

In fact, I admire all churches that are innovating to become more effective in their mission.

But here’s the challenge.

Many leaders have almost spilled blood getting their church to change in the area of music (or making sure their church doesn’t change).

And yet, despite the battles fought over music, many churches are actually not much further ahead in reaching people because of it.

Why is that?

Here are five problems I see church leaders struggle with when navigating the sensitive and emotional issue of worship style in church:

1. You become so focused on pleasing the people you have that you lose sight of the people you’re trying to reach.

Before you start pointing fingers, realize this nails almost everybody.

Whatever your music style, many church leaders are overly worried about how ‘their people’ will handle the change. And when this becomes an overriding fear, the mission shifts away from reaching new people to keeping the people you have happy.

Most leaders are concerned at some level with pleasing their members. But that pleasing often comes from a deep seated fear. Fear of losing people. Fear of giving drying up. Fear of becoming unpopular.

As a result, leaders:

Abandon change to keep people happy.

Compromise vision to try to satisfy the discontent.

Stop innovating to try to placate people.

These attempts at making people happy virtually never work (I wrote about the problems people-pleasing leaders face here).

How do you address this?

Focus on who you’re trying to reach AND cast vision about why reaching them requires the change you’re trying to lead. If you focus on why you’re making the change (to reach people) far more people will accept what you’re trying to do (changing the style of worship). If you want more on this subject, I’ve written more on leading change here.

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Speaker and podcaster Carey Nieuwhof is a former lawyer and founding pastor of Connexus Church, one of the largest and most influential churches in Canada. With over 6 million downloads, The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast features today's top leaders and cultural influencers. His most recent book is “Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences.” Carey and his wife, Toni, reside near Barrie, Ontario and have two children.