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5 Steps to Address the Elephant in Your Worship Space

Phil Coleman

Let me tell you a story…

The long-anticipated day has arrived. John has been “working” on his coworker for a very long time and finally, after countless invitations, he finally agreed to come to church. But now, as John waits for his friend to arrive, some uncomfortable thoughts cross his mind:

  • I hope today’s service is at least decent. Last week was embarrassing.
  • I really hope “So-and-So” is not leading worship.
  • Maybe the band won’t play too long or too poorly. Everybody knows they’re not very good.
  • The sound is always awful. If it’s not the high shrill of feedback, it’s either too loud or too soft.
  • The leadership has got to know there is a problem here. Why aren’t they doing anything about it?
  • How do I explain this to my coworker? Will I be able to save face and even hope to talk him into coming back?
  • Why am I doing this to my friend, and to me…again?

Then, as John leads his guest into the auditorium, BOOM! Like a ton of bricks, he instantly senses it.

What I’m describing here is a classic “elephant in the room” scenario. You know what I’m talking about. It’s the problem, the inconsistency, the deficiency, the weak link, or the controversial issue that everybody is painfully aware of but unwilling to publicly acknowledge or deal with in any meaningful way.

And let’s be honest. This isn’t one of those small, cute, cuddly elephants. It’s large, it’s neon pink, and it stinks! The congregation feels it, the worship team feels it, and you most definitely feel it. What’s worse is that, as the Lead Minister, it is your problem to fix even though you most likely didn’t take a single Worship Ministry class in college.

People are watching your every move to see if you are going to inadvertently reveal your true feelings about the situation and they are waiting to see if you are going do something about the problem. It’s uncomfortable and draining. Every weekend, you just drop your head, don’t look around – and just pray for it to be done. You try not to wince in embarrassment or distaste. You avoid shrinking or flinching…

I’ve been there. Have you? Maybe you’re there right now.

If so, don’t ignore it any longer. As the leader, it’s your responsibility to do something about it. And most likely, no one else will. The good news is that it can be fixed and you don’t have to walk the path alone.

What’s the elephant in your worship space? Is it the music style, the quality of the musicianship or vocals, the song choices, the audio and video technology, or a combination of several of these factors?

Are you ready to attack the problem head on but just unsure about how to move forward? Are you searching for the right direction? Are you desperate to identify the most strategic first step? Here are 5 steps to get started:

1. Gather Data

Use the Center for Church Leadership’s Church Health Assessment to learn how you, the elders, worship team members, and other key leaders in your congregation perceive the weekend worship experience in addition to eleven additional factors.

2. Get on the Same Page

Meet with key stakeholders (i.e., worship leader, vocal team, musicians, sound tech, guest services team members, etc.) to review the Church Health Assessment results. Use this meeting to have open and honest conversations that a) celebrate areas of your weekend worship that are currently going well, and b) acknowledge areas that are NOT going well.

3. Build a Shared Vision

Now that the elephant has been called out, meet with the key stakeholders to create a new Vision for how the weekend worship experience will help your church fulfill its mission. Clarify the motivation for worship, identify the specific objectives that should be achieved through worship, specify the level of quality that should be achieved, and articulate the processes and systems that will be used to protect and promote the new Vision. 

4. Evaluate Other Churches

Create and empower a task-force to research how other churches of similar size (and somewhat larger) are planning, executing, and leveraging their weekend worship. The evaluation can include attending weekend worship services, observing rehearsals, and meeting with their worship team for Q&A.

5. Get Professional Help

Work with a group like ( to benefit from nearly three decades of worship ministry experience that spanned a variety of church sizes, styles, and geographic locations. Receive individualized coaching and resources that will help you address common challenges related to worship team development, leadership training, worship/musical styles, team building, creative planning, audio/video, and more!

All of the ingredients are present for you to finally get rid of that stinking elephant in your worship space. You know it’s there, you want it gone, and you have a plan. Don’t wait. Click here to learn more about the Church Health Assessment and take the first step toward an engaging and effective worship experience.