Building A Qualification Process To Create Better Culture
Have you ever had someone on your music or tech team that you hoped God would call to the mission field? Or Toledo? Or just anywhere but your church? I’ve prayed “divine relocation supplications” for many different reasons. The people may have had a sour disposition, subpar musicianship, authority issues, a questionable character, or were just plain mean.

If the life-rewind button worked, it’d be great to go back and block these people from ever being on the team. Because let’s face it, once they’re in, it’s tough to get them out.

After inheriting a number of those type of people, and inviting in more than a few of them through my own negligent leadership, I’ve learned the value of a robust, multistep qualification system. Why? Because it’s far easier to say “no thanks” than “please leave.”

This issue goes deeper than a person being a pain in the proverbial tush—it’s lousy stewardship of the ministry God has entrusted to us. When we invite an unqualified person (spiritually, relationally, or musically) into our music and tech ministry, we open the door to dysfunction into our team. A healthy qualification system will give you the time and space to recognize any of those issues. And it might mean that you still invite a not-quite-ready person into your team. But they come aboard with clear boundaries, expectations, and a plan to grow.

So, what goes into a healthy qualification process? Here are five key elements that every qualification system should have.

Communicate Clear Expectations Upfront
You can help people self-select out of the process before they even get to the application. Be clear on what you require for each position/instrument and what the time commitment is for serving on the team.

One massive expectation that you need to communicate is this: “You may hear, ‘No’.” Applicants need to understand that they might not make it on the team. It doesn’t make hearing or delivering “No” any easier for either of you. But at least the person knew it was a possibility.

Involve Multiple Evaluators
Don’t qualify people on your own. Invite at least two other leaders or core team members to help you. The primary reason is this: others see and hear things you don’t. And also, sharing responsibility with others helps build their “ownership” of the ministry.

Set High Preparation Standards
One of my early (and frequent) mistakes was not building in preparation. I merely asked the interviewee to play or sing something they knew. That’s not a bad thing for a first interview. It lets them feel confident early in the process. But you need to know if applicants can sing or play the songs that are a part of your team’s current repertoire. Requiring songs that they don’t know helps you determine how prepared they’ll be if they join the ministry. If someone fails to prepare for an audition, that’s a definite indication they probably aren’t a good fit.

Look Beyond Skills
Too many times, we let good musicianship drive our decision. While talent is necessary, we can guarantee an unhealthy team if that’s all we look for. Determine what your qualifying factors are. For my team, we use a variation of the common Cs:

  • Character – heart and attitude.
  • Craft – skill and preparation.
  • Connection – commitment and involvement in our local church.
  • Chemistry – a relational connection with the applicant and team.
  • Calling – a sense that God is leading and they have availability to commit.

Require a multi-step process
Qualifying a new team member is an investment. It should take time. If you rush the process just to fill a spot, you’re probably also inviting frustration and dysfunction into your team. That’s why I advocate a multiple-step process.

A multiple-step process gives you and others on the team time and space to get to know the potential team member. It also allows him or her to get to know you and the team. A multi-step process also gives the applicants opportunities to disqualify themselves—that is, they opt not to continue.

We don’t have time here to get into all the steps that you could include in a qualification process, but take some time to think through what could work in your setting.

For a while, you’ll change the process each time a new person applies. But that’s OK. Continue to improve it each time you walk through it with someone.

And if you want to dig even deeper into building this system and all your ministry systems, sign up for the 2018 Worship Leader’s Boot Camp at the Christian Musician Summit. It’s a full-day intensive where you’ll get hands-on training and coaching in all eight of the essential systems your worship ministry needs. Learn more here.


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