How to Conduct Auditions for the Worship Team

A guide to steadily growing your worship ministry

A growing and flourishing worship team is what every worship pastor dreams of. Though that dream is often fulfilled over time and with dedicated effort.  

It also comes with questions like: how do you bring in new musicians and singers who are very skilled? What about building up leaders who are novice musicians? How does one identify musicians and singers? How do turn this band into a team?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach; every church and every ministry is different. But a tried and true practice for most worship teams is holding auditions for new members to join the team.

Purpose of Auditions

Holding auditions for your team is a practical way to understand a person’s skill level and intentions. It’ll help connect people’s skill and heart to where they can best serve God. The end result will be a growing worship team.

The thought of an audition may immediately deter some from trying. Other’s may think that auditioning is inappropriate for a church context. To be fair, many probably picture an American Idol-esque firing squad when they hear “audition” which is not how we should audition in church.

A worship team audition should be a pleasant, edifying experience. Whether they do well in the audition or not, they should come away feeling encouraged. And if they make the team or are encouraged to get plugged into another ministry, we need to recognize their gifting. We want to help them match their passions and skill set to their best ministry fit.

No Pressure

Creating a comfortable atmosphere during auditions is the best way to be effective and simultaneously maintain a culture of encouragement. Create a space where the pressure is off. This audition isn’t determining their worth as an individual; what they do or how well they perform is not who they are. Be sure to explain the audition process and what they can expect.

It’s important to remember that everyone is encouraged to worship but not everyone is equipped to lead worship. Auditioning helps us discover those who can corporately encourage a group to worship and praise God, that is the difference between leaders and worshippers. At the end of the day, whether they are welcomed onto the team or not, help them know they are a valued part of your fellowship.

Prepare to Prepare

Select a few songs with which anyone could audition. Prepare a packet for them with MP3s of the songs, PDFs of charts and/or sheet music, and even link to tracks that they can listen to. Share these resources with them well in advance so they have plenty of time to prepare.

If applicable, include more than one key. For instance, for a vocalist, if they audition with a song in the key of D, include MP3s that are also in the key of C, Bb, and perhaps even E. They may have a great voice but they might not have the same range as the original demo. 

Audition Instrumentalists

Start by having instrumentalists play the song in the original key. Jump around in the song, find an easy portion for them to warm up with then perhaps jump to a more challenging section. If they make mistakes, reassure them. If they are doing a good job, ask them if they would feel comfortable doing the song again in a different key. At least two different songs will give you a feel for how they play.

Auditioning Vocalists

When auditioning vocalists, ask them which key they’d prefer. After you've gone through a portion of the song, switch to the original key.

Notice how well they know the lyrics. Pay attention to their range, timbre, and how well they prepared for the audition. Have them sing through at least two different songs. After they sing through the song on melody, sing harmony with them. Then switch to determine how well they harmonize.

A true litmus test for vocalists is matching pitch. I'll play different pitches on the piano and have them sing that same pitch on a “la.” I'll jump around within their register to see if I can throw them off. I'll start off easy moving around in seconds, thirds, and fourths, but then I'll jump around to see if they can match more difficult pitches. If they can match ten or twelve pitches, I know I have something to work with. If they can't match pitch, they are probably not gifted enough in singing to lead in worship. 

Post Audition Contact

End the audition by thanking them for their time and setting an expectation of next steps. Plan to contact them in the next few days via email, phone call or in-person meeting. 

If you’ve determined someone to not be a good fit, encourage them by pointing out specific things that you appreciated and strengths you noticed. Let them know they simply need a little more time under their belt and direct them to helpful resources (*cough* Worship Artistry *cough*). Let them know that they are welcome to audition again once they’ve spent time improving.

Also, be sure to ask them about other passions and giftings in their life. See if they are plugged into any other ministry at your church. If not, help them get plugged in while they are continuing to work on their skill that way they still feel connected.

Conclusion

The audition process should be a pleasant one for all involved. No matter someone’s performance in an audition, you want that person walking away feeling encouraged and connected. Whether the worship team is a good fit for them or whether they are encouraged to get plugged into another ministry, communicate acceptance and love.

 

 

Worship Artistry exists to help you bring your best in worship, whatever your skill level. We are an online worship teaching resource that features 5-piece, label-approved arrangements, tutorials, and technique lessons for guitar, bass, drums, keyboard, and vocals. Our library includes over 500 licensed worship songs by over 100 artists including Hillsong, Passion, Bethel, Elevation, and more.

Try it out for free!

Ryan is currently the Worship Director at The Church at Wills Creek in North Alabama. He has been the keyboardist for many Christian artists and has served with several churches including Christ Fellowship and Church of the Highlands. Ryan is the keyboard instructor for WorshipArtistry.com and also works as a producer, music educator, and studio musician. Ryan has two children, Josiah and Vivy, and they love spending time on their 100 acre farm.

How to Conduct Auditions for the Worship Team

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