How To Hold An Audition

Featuring John Telman Posted on February 12, 2009

A good start will go a long way toward building a strong worship ministry in any church. Helping every new singer or musician to begin well has its genesis at what we call, “the audition”.

The first thing to consider is the very use of the word “audition”. It can be an intimidating word so over the years I have chosen to say that we will have “interviews” for worship ministry. Actually, seldom have I called for interviews (auditions) by way of announcements. In a healthy environment, people will naturally be attracted to the ministry that God has prepared for them.

Once a person indicates their desire to join the worship ministry an interview is needed to assess a number of key items:  1)  “Is this person gifted to sing or play?”, 2) “Does this person have a relationship with Jesus Christ?” and 3) “Does this person have any issues personally that would make involvement difficult?”.

 Usually, I would try to do the interview with another person so that it is not just “my take”. I suggest that two interviews are best. The first meeting would be introductory. It is an opportunity for us to get to know each other. We ask the applicant to tell us about their personal spiritual history. On one occasion we found out that a singer actually never made a spiritual decision for Jesus so I had the joy of leading her in a prayer for salvation. Awesome!

At other times, red flags have risen to tell us to proceed cautiously. If a great spiritual need is uncovered, their involvement in worship ministry may need to be delayed. During this first meeting, we ask questions that will indicate the depth of relationship with God.

 “What prayer habits do you have?”

“What are your Bible reading (study) habits like?”

“Does anything keep you from attending church on a regular basis?”

 If all these items are cleared, and if time permits, we have the person sing or play an instrument.  Otherwise we set a time to meet again.  In between the interviews, I discuss what we observed with the leader that sat in on the meeting. Then I begin to pray and listen to what the Holy Spirit will guide me to look for, listen for and to say at the next meeting.

 If the second interview leads us to, we will assess their musical skills.  I usually have singers sing a verse of, "Amazing Grace". The reason for this is that most people will know the words and not be nervous about forgetting words. The whole idea of the interview process is not to intimidate but to make the applicant comfortable and feel safe. I choose, "Amazing Grace" also because of the intervals. It sits easy in most peoples' range but it tells us quickly if the applicant can match pitch and if they understand rhythm. To ease the persons mind, we also sing along. We let musicians choose the song they would like to play and we play along.

 Remember the applicant may be nervous so they may not be at their best and that's alright. It's not about perfection but it's more about identifying basic skills.

 Some have nervously said, “I'm not that good”, to which I say, “You might be surprised”. Vocals will always improve quickly as a person makes weekly rehearsals a part of their schedule.

 You might ask, “Have you ever turned someone down?” My answer is yes. For example, we found out that one person had skills and knew Jesus but her schedule as a nurse was very tight. I told her we would love to have her serve with us but we will have to wait until her schedule opened up. Of course, she was disappointed but later she told me that it was the wise thing to do. Incidentally, it wasn't long before God opened the way for her to be able to join the worship ministry.

On another occasion, I had a singer interview who was monotone. I offered to help her with vocal coaching until she was ready. She gladly accepted.

The important thing to remember is that we have a responsibility not to just fill positions in ministry but to connect people with the ministry that they will thrive in.  Dependence on the Holy Spirit to give wisdom and direction in each individual case is vital.

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