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In January, Sam Hamstra wrote a piece that touched on the issue of things not going well during the service. He reminded us to make sure to take time focus on God and put our hearts and minds in the right place before every service. I want to expand a little bit on that great advice, and offer a few ideas for helping you decide how to handle things.

Poor execution is a normal part of human life.  Regardless of the amount and quality of our preparation, we often fall short of a stellar delivery.  So why is it so difficult for most of us to effectively handle these situations?  We say nothing when something needs to be said.  We say something when nothing would be best.  And when we do rightfully say something, we say the wrong thing.  Whether it’s our own shortcoming or that of the person next to us, we tend to do the least effective thing in response to those times when the singing or playing just isn’t that great.  Can we improve our handling of these situations?  Here are some questions I think are really important to ask.

Will the problem persist if you don’t say anything?  Sometimes, a problem will not go away if someone doesn’t speak up.  For instance, if the sound team has the wrong feeds going to the monitors, they probably don’t even know it.  So it would be best to let them know.  Often, though, things don’t go well simply due to mistakes.  Mistakes are not planned, and no amount of discussion or review will change that.  Plus, like a goaltender who just missed a save, the person who made the mistake probably already feels bad about it, so bringing it up will only make him feel worse.

Are you the best person to address the issue?  If you’re not the team leader, you might not be.  Your relationship with someone might allow you to address problems with her, without creating hard feelings, but I would be careful.  Be sure about it before you proceed.

Is fixing the problem worth it?  Imagine for a moment there is member of your praise team who always plays or sings poorly, but is always very excited to participate.  You’ve been patient with this person, hoping he’d get better with practice, and he just hasn’t.  You really want to address it, but you’re hesitant.  You should be.  Is this person truly detracting from your worship services?  Have you really given him all the support you can?  What is your hope in talking to him, that he’ll quit?  I think it’s almost beyond us to honestly and accurately answer these questions, and if you drive someone away from participating in leading the worship of God, that may be worse than whatever damage (if any) that person was causing.

Have you prayed… enough?  God knows what’s best, and while He probably won’t send you a burning bush or a non-conforming fleece, you can’t possibly hope to handle the situation properly without talking to Him first. “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5, NIV)  Believe me, we lack wisdom.  It is also advisable to speak to a trustworthy, disinterested third party.

Can I do this without being rude?  A wise friend of mine says, “Right plus rude equals wrong.”  He’s spot on.  Even when you are completely justified in saying a thing, on the grounds that it’s true, you need to consider how it will make the recipient feel.  Not everything that’s true needs to be said, and even those that do warrant being said, need to be said lovingly.  “Speak the truth in love” is the standard CRC phrasing, and in these situations, it’s paramount.

Have you ever had to deal with a difficult situation along these lines?  What did you do?  Was the advice or correction well received?  Have you ever failed to deal with something like this?  It’s rotten we even have these matters.  After all, worshiping God shouldn’t be so complicated.  Alas, our sinful nature pervades all, and you’re bound to encounter them, if you haven’t already.  Still, they don’t have to be destructive, and they can lead to stronger relationships if handled well.  With love and a lot of help from the Holy Spirit, God will give us the grace to make our offerings the best they can be.


Thank you for this helpful post! A wise pastor once told me that the best time to provide guidance and correction is often not right after the meeting/worship service/event, but right before the next one. That way you provide helpful guidance right at the moment when the person has the opportunity to do it again, but make it more success this time.

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