My question is straightforward: How do you audition worship team members? I'm new to this and have never done it before. I'd like to know what you look for *musically* both for instrumentalists and vocalists. I'd also like to know what protocols are considered acceptable for this.
Also, I read an article by the worship leader of Saddleback Church, and he stated that he re-auditions all worship team members annually. Do you do this as well, and what do you think about it?
Before you bring a musician or vocalist into a rehearsal, you need to know them a little. Who they are, what they play or part they sing, what experience level they are, and what experience if any, they have. If your church has a code of conduct for the worship team, then they need to be on board with that.
I look for different things for different musicians, but basically I want two years of solid experience on the instrument. I want the ability to play from a lead sheet - reading music is NOT a requirement. I want a musician who is teachable, and has a good work ethic. As far as vocalists are concerned, the ability to sing harmony is REQUIRED.
The church where I currently serve, and where I am NOT the worship leader, has open auditions once a year, as well as annual auditions for current members. We hold special auditions when special circumstances arise. I don't mind the annual audition, because I am always learning new things to improve my skills, and I think that most members of our team feel the same about it.
I just wanted to say I that God every time he places people like you on teams I work with. When I read the paragraph about the not complaining, and being read, I recognized I have a few people like you on my team now, and they make my task so much easier. People like yourself are true "professionals" and serve the Lord very faithfully.
Actually, I think CS is absolutely correct. Initially I didn't want to respond, since every church is so different. For example with Steven's Creek, the resources it took to create that video would have consumed our entire English worship ministry. (We are a Chinese church, and have 3 congregations which minister in the language members are most comfortable with, Cantonese, Mandarin and English speakers. I am part of the English ministry is approximately 250+ people right now. The worship ministry is about 29-30 people, broken into 4 teams.)
Yet for us, as a church, we rely heavily on the rotation of 4 worship teams, which somewhat autonomous. As a leader for one of the teams, I pick the songs, run practices and have quite a bit of responsibility for how the Sunday services assigned to us go. If anything we take account of the gifts to "try" to distribute both the talent and experience levels evenly amongst the teams.
To back-up CS's point, I think the team works best when the leader believes in them. We had 3 "rookies" of sorts on our team this year, and a big part of the ministry is actually discipleship and growing the next generation of leaders. As CS's mentions, caring and nurturing is big part of that. Stretching out team members and finding a place they are most effective is part of that leadership. (Maybe a so-so guitar becomes a great bass player?) I have moved people to a totally new instrument as the need arose. I'm sure if they auditioned for that, they would have failed the test. (I'm actually sure, years ago, I might have even failed the audition, but someone had faith and patience with me.)
There is a newer mandate from the ministry head that we assimilate new members slowly. Once they approach us, there is minimum timer period they need to be regularly attending the church, etc, they are put on a team to "audit" it for a while. After that, we bring them on full time. That was not my first choice of processes because I believe that God gives people gifts for the glory of the church, but I believe it's been working so far. I have a slant for teaching and nurturing because as I get older (and I'm not that old... just not so naive anymore), I recognize that often times I was shown a lot of patience, care and grace and ultimately I'm a product of all the people who have laid hands on me.
Yet for all I've said, it (sort of, is anything really perfect?) works for us. I'm sure there are church with way larger congregations that need (or basically expect) that quality it might be necessary. Unfortunately, I've found my place at a small-medium sized church, and everyone had their own path.
So to conclude, I'm with CS. I'm worried that annual auditions may undermine the trust between the ministry heads and the ministry members, which is very important. If you are worried about dedication and stewardship, maybe there is something that can be done on a team-level or a one-on-one level. Hopefully someone is leading the sheep more directly.
I think it's a good idea to spend some one-on-one time with the person before bringing them into a full band rehearsal setting. Have them come prepared to play/sing a couple of songs they know, and then give them a song or two they don't know, and see if they can play/sing it from the lead sheet/chord chart, or if they are a singer and don't read music, have them sing along with you and see how quickly they pick it up. The combination of hearing them play something they know well and hearing them learning something new should give you a pretty good idea of how well they'd fit into your team.
I've never thought of doing a yearly re-audition, I guess I agree with those above who think it would do more harm than good. I'm curious- has anyone ever dealt with a team member who started off "qualified" and then deteriorated to the point that they would not have passed through their original audition? I don't think it's something I've seen at any of the churches I've lead or played at.
Hey, all. Thanks for responding to my post. I see a lot of you questioning the purpose for annual re-auditions. The reason for this is not necessary to see if the team member is still qualified by skill. But rather, it's to accomplish several other things: 1) to challenge the team member to continue to refine their skills or add to their current skill set, with a specific goal date in mind, 2) to re-affirm the member's humble commitment to the ministry, 3) to give the team member an opportunity, without feeling awkward, to request some leave time, 4) to give a specific date to prepare the team for potential major changes... such as incorporating new team members, 5) to see if the existing members will work well with the potential new members, 6) to see that the existing team members don't get cocky in thinking that they are not exempt from potential turn-overs.
These are just a handle of reasons I can think of, and frankly, I think having re-auditions is excellent idea. But I'm open to anyone else's thoughts. Thanks!
There's been times in the past where I wished I had the "out" of a re-audition...there've been people that needed to move on for various reasons. But in truth, I think it's better to deal with them one-on-one. It feels more like what the church is really about; discipling and training and loving.
That being said, I can appreciate where a larger church just finds it really difficult to deal with people on an individual basis, though I think they should try. Like CS, I don't think it's right or wrong. It's a matter of doing what works in your situation. And yes, modify as required!
Our "Senior" worship leader auditions all new team prospects. The singers have to sing something for him and often he'll also have them try and harmonize with him to see where they would best fit in the singing team. Musicians must also play for him. Anyone that joins the team is placed on a 1 month "probation" where they attend practices and get to know the songs before being scheduled to minister. They are them gradually worked in to the schedule depending on the need in their area of ministry.
Sometimes people just aren't up to par and become members of the team on a learning level. This means they attend practices and are reevaluated after a few months to see if they are ready to be put on the schedule.
We have a small team and a relatively small church so it is likely that someone on the team or in team leadership is connected with the individual trying out and can vouch for their character and spiritual maturity.
This year was a *ahem* fun one for us...Both our worship leaders and most of the worship members left town so we were left with no worship team. We pretty much told anyone...and I mean ANYONE who was willing to be on the team to come to practice. So basically if you showed up, you were on the team.
In a way, it's been great cos we are learning together and because we are not that good we HAVE to rely on God to do the work...we realise that if the worship set is good it has nothing to do with our abilities and everything to do with God's blessings.
Now, however, that we've got a team going we still invite anyone who wants to to come to practices, but we let them know that coming to practice doesn't gaurantee that you will play. We expect people to play a few practices so we get to know them and their abilities and where they are spiritually before placing them in leadership positions.
Sounds as if there was something operating in the church. These things do not normally happen. It was as if it was a church split! First off, I am so sorry this happened! Second, if I were you, I would get on my face and cry out to God for answers!!!! Read other posts I wrote here and you will understand what I am meaning here!
Your last paragraph is a wise one! Time to start getting to know who you are in the foxhole with!!! I am going to start praying for you and your team. I know it is hard, but God weed out the ones who are not to be there. Your people need unhindered worship!!!
Keep the faith, Be still and know He is God!!!