Do You Do Auditions for Your Worship Team?
Yes, I do. I don’t call it that, but that’s basically what it is. Here’s how it goes:
1) Someone in the church let’s me know that they’re interested in serving on the worship team.
2) I send them a link to a short online questionnaire that I’ve developed to give me a brief musical history and self-evalutaion.
3) After I receive the completed questionnaire, I contact the person to set up a time to meet at my office.
Here’s what the meeting includes:
1) A summary of why we do what we do in the worship ministry at Grace including the vision behind the elements in the worship service, the kinds of songs I choose, and what it means to serve the congregation through worship leadership.
2) Playing/singing through two or three worship songs. I always start with “Be Thou My Vision” because most people know it well and it gives them somewhere comfortable to start. But it’s also not a softball song when it comes to chords and harmonies, so it gives me a good idea where they are musically. Then I usually pick one or two songs that may be less familiar to them so that I get a sense of how quickly they pick up on new melodies, harmonies, and the feel of the song.
3) Once I get a feel for where they are as a musician, I choose from one of the ways to move forward:
– I say, “Great! I’m looking forward to getting you involved.” Then I get all their information into my system and everyone is happy.
– Or (this is why you’re reading this article, isn’t it?), I have to tell them they’re not ready. Over the years, I’ve decided that truth telling is the best way to do this. No beating around the bush. Not mean, but real. Here’s the truth: “I don’t want to put you in a position where you would feel uncomfortable or not confident on stage. With the amount of time that we have to rehearse each week, I don’t think that you would be able to feel confident playing/singing an entire worship set of songs. Here is where you can hear a lot of the songs we do at Grace and practice them (I point them to our songs page online). If you work on your instrument and feel like you’re improving and want to meet again, I’ll be happy to.”
Now, saying this doesn’t make the situation all honky-dory. The person will most likely feel uncomfortable and self-conscious. That’s understandable. But it’s much better to feel uncomfortable and self-conscious in my office than on stage in front of the congregation. And I try not to fix what they’re feeling. I am married to a therapist after all. So I don’t worry about telling them that I’m sure God has gifted them in some other way that they can use to serve the church. They already know that. It’s not going to help how they’re feeling now. That’s really about me not wanting to feel awkward.
But one thing I do is engage them at church when I see them. Not in an weird/stalker way, of course, but something as simple as saying “hey” can tell a person, “I know that was awkward, but I’m not afraid of that or of you.” I genuinely care about them as fellow believers and church members, and avoidance or over-pursuance doesn’t communicate that.