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Worship Team Auditions

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  • Worship Team Auditions

    (Originally posted at Thoughts of a Worshiper)

    This past Saturday, we hosted worship team auditions. I'd like to share with you some preliminary thoughts on auditions generally, as well as my "top ten tips" for auditions, speaking reflectively.

    Growing churches, such as St. Paul's, often face two dynamics:

    1) the increasing likelihood that talented and gifted individuals are "hiding out" in the ever-larger congregation and not necessarily presenting themselves without being asked (as it often appears that we've "got it covered" up front).

    2) the growing number of people that would like to be a part of the worship team and, thus, the resulting difficulty in finding places for these individuals to serve (or not serve).

    Frankly, I think auditions are a bummer. I'm not a big fan. Don't get me wrong - when you find a fit, it's a blast, but I hate having to tell someone that it's not a right fit. At this point, however, auditions are becoming necessary, lest anarchy ensue. Adding services means that we need more musicians, but a greater "pool" of musicians to choose from means the possibility of having to say "no." And that is where I struggle. My heart is to include everyone with a desire to participate.

    But here is the reality: music has a profound impact on people and must be "stewarded" well and with care. Even in the psalms it is written: "Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully and shout for joy" (Psalm 33:3). In Chronicles, we see that David recruits three leaders and a worship team of 288 individuals who were "trained and skilled in music for the Lord" (1 Chron. 25:1-7).

    Excellence is an important value in and of itself. It honors God when we give our very best. And moreso, if we are to effectively facilitate corporate worship, it is important to form a musically-skilled and cohesive worship team.

    So how do we conduct auditions? A run-through of 3 or so different songs typical of St. Paul's, and then a brief "interview" (conversation).

    One useful measure that Ben (our lead pastor) and I were discussing recently with regards to inviting folks to join any one of the many teams within the church is fulfillment of the "5 C's" (based on Bill Hybels' 3 c's).

    We ask, how well does a person match up with regard to:

    * Competence
    * Character
    * Chemistry
    * Charismata
    * Commitment

    When all is said and done, the hope is that auditions are done in love, are authentic and gracious (on the part of both parties) and are fruitful. At the end of the day, as it should be, it's all about Jesus.

    Having just finished our auditions, these would be my TOP TEN TIPS for those of you who might be considering auditions:

    1) Schedule musicians for one-at-a-time auditions (give them a specific time to show up, tell them to arrive a bit early and give yourself more time than you might need for each audition).

    2) Schedule a couple of breaks for yourself to refresh and reset - it's important that you be on point as you will have just a short window to assess someone's talent and character.

    3) Assemble a fairly diverse and representative assessment panel from within the church - as Fred mentioned in a comment from my previous post.

    4) Assess prospective musicians under realistic conditions - in our case, our team rehearses two hours before the services and needs to be able to learn songs pretty quickly. Thus, those auditioning didn't know which songs they'd be doing until the start of the audition.

    5) Before anyone plays a single note, make sure they are aware of and OK with the reality that they might not be asked to join the team (for any number of reasons) - this "protects" them and you, and their response can be pretty informative.

    6) Ask the question "why do you want to be a part of the worship team?" Simple, but telling.

    7) Be encouraging. Affirm them where they are strong and, to whatever degree possible, point them in a direction that blesses them and builds them up. Chris had some good things to say on this in his response to this post. Remember: these individuals are not just the means to the end, but are the ends themselves.

    8) Don't feel like it's an all-or-nothing deal. Maybe just invite them to start hanging out with the team. Chemistry is key! Maybe you can ease them into the rotation, little by little. Maybe the next step is to simply begin meeting together. It doesn't have to be a black-and-white, deal or no deal kind of thing.

    9) Pray and ask that God would heighten your senses, soften your heart and cause you to be attentive to His leading.

    10) Try to have a little bit of fun - just for kicks, I asked one of the females who was auditioning, who I knew to be a professionally trained opera singer (don't worry - she can sing "normally" very well also) to belt out some opera for me...man, my jaw hit the floor when she nailed those high notes!

    What are your thoughts on worship auditions?

    You can find more thoughts on the topic at my blog, Thoughts of a Worshiper.

  • #2
    EXCELLENT post. Simply excellent. Wow. Good call.


    • #3
      Hey Stephen,
      Again, welcome to TWC, and thanks for sharing this with the community!

      Fred McKinnon, Pianist/Composer/Worship Leader
      blog: www.fredmckinnon.com

      Please check out my piano/instrumental music at: