A worship leader recently asked me for advice. He is trying to make some important improvements to his music ministry, including adding a choir and a new recruiting process. How would you answer these questions?
Q: I’m in the process of putting together some new systems for the Fall. One of them is a recruiting/audition system. I wanted to seek some advice and wisdom from you about that. Do you guys do formal auditions there? If so, what does the process look like? I know involvement in the band and vocals is also part of the leadership development system y’all use. And I’m thinking of loosely implementing some of that ideal into who serves where. But does everyone who wants to be involved have to go through some audition/interview process? If so, what does that look like? Any and all feedback is much appreciated.
A: We do not hold regular auditions at this time. Instead, we allow any one who wants to sing in our adult choir. After 3-6 months of singing faithfully in the choir, we may ask individuals to audition for our vocal team (as we have need). We want anyone on our VT to first demonstrate they are a worshiper and grow as worshipers. If we invite them to be on our vocal team (or band), then we take them through an apprentice process, which includes doing the Pure Praise Bible study and attending our rehearsals for a period of time before they can officially join our team–at which time we consider them a leader, once they’ve completed our apprentice process.
Q: I’m planning on starting a choir in the fall…well, I shouldn’t say starting. We have one, but it only sings 2-3 times a year. I want to have one more regularly. You inspired me when I came to your WORSHIP LEADER INTENSIVE! Here’s my question/situation. We have 2 different styles of worship. Blended and fully contemporary. We’ll be going to a 3 service format in September: 1 blended services and 2 contemporary. I definitely want to use the praise choir in the contemporary services, that’s a no brainer. But should I work on having one in the blended? We have 2 completely different teams for each style. So I might have to get 2 different choirs and directors for those choirs if I used a choir in all 3 services. I already have someone chosen to lead the contemporary choir, but I don’t have anyone qualified to lead the blended choir. I can’t do it as I’m already stretched too thin. Thoughts?
A: I think a choir is especially helpful to lead a blended service, because the choir can be made up of older and younger people, highlighting the multi-generational emphasis of blended praise. That said, you certainly don’t want to spread yourself too thin. You might start with a choir in the contemp services only; then, when you’ve trained someone else to lead, you can start a choir in the blended services. Incidentally, we don’t sing our choir every Sunday; rather, we sing them every other week, although we still rehearse every week. That gives us two rehearsals for every time we sing, which has greatly enhanced their quality.
Q: I’ll also ask advice on a good way to “demote” someone. It’s not a bad situation, I’m just making some changes and will have to pull some people off the mic and place them in the choir, at least temporarily. I’ve tried to communicate the vision of where we’re going as a ministry so people understand, but I’m sure some people will be hurt. Just wondering if there is a good way to be the bad guy. Thanks for all your help, Dwayne!!
A: Clear, face-to-face communication and trust-building is very important before you start to move people around and reassign them. Let them know how valued they are in your ministry. Look for other strengths they may have, and try to plug them into something they are equally good at and passionate about. Also, try not to think in terms of “demoting” someone, but rather of how you can reposition them for the greatest good. For example, we recently reassigned someone from playing in our band to helping with our choir and our music training. Her background in music education is proving to be an excellent fit–and after we asked her to help with music training and choir, she was more than OK with being repositioned. She has become a wonderful asset to our worship ministry. Not every situation works out this well, but many can if we take the time to prayerfully and carefully walk through them–with ministry to people as our priority over managing them.