After years of ministry, I believe I’ve cracked the code to building a lousy worship team. It’s all about the audition and qualification process.
I’ve tried a lot of different ways to qualify new musicians and techs. Through little trial and much error, I’ve found five tactics guaranteed to help you build the worst worship ministry. Ever.
Here’s the thing: anyone can build an average team. But it takes a potent combination of appalling audition tactics to grow a truly terrible team. Now, each of these tactics taken by themselves will guarantee some level of dysfunction on your team. But eventually, through enough neglect and disregard for good leadership practices, you may find yourself combining several of these tactics to build the worst worship ministry ever.
Let’s look at each of these awful audition tactics.
Tactic #1: The Four-Chord-Pulse-Check
Do NOT waste your time getting to know a person musically, relationally, or spiritually. If they have a heartbeat and can play the 1, 5, 6m, 4 in the key of G on the guitar, they’re on the platform. THIS WEEK.
And by the way, each instrument’s “four chord requirement” is a little different. The underlying principle here is to NOT set the bar too high.
And definitely, don’t implement any qualifying elements like an application or a multiple interview process that involves your core team members. Sure, that might help you find committed people and let you get to know a person’s heart. But dang, that could take months! You need someone NOW.
Tactic #2: The Zero-Prep Audition
Now speaking of low bars, one way to make the audition easy for your potential “worship rockstars” is to let them choose their own audition song. Don’t push them out of their comfort zone by asking them to prepare something they don’t already know.
They’ll practice enough once they get on the team, right? So why overburden them now by requiring them to needlessly learn a song that would demonstrate their ability to serve on the worship team?
Tactic #3: Talent Trumps All
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: attitude and character are WAY overrated. What you want is someone with killer musical chops.
If she’s a diva soprano, it’s OK. The constant eye-rolling and condescending remarks to the alto is just a part of her sheer awesomeness. Or maybe you’ll get an amazing lead guitarist who’s a tad arrogant. So he shreds during altar calls—no big deal. It’s the cost of talent.
Seriously, if a person has an incredible musical ability, that should always outweigh heart issues. I mean, would you really want team members who “get along” and have “great attitudes” but are just average musicians?
Yeah, I didn’t think so.
By the way, as a leader looking to build a highly dysfunctional team, you need to know when to break the rules. So here’s an exception to talent trumping all else: if the person is young and attractive and will look awesome on the stage, you can ease up on the skill requirements.
Church growth statistics don’t lie: pretty people on the platform are GREAT for attendance.
Tactic #4: Lone Decision-Making
If you want to be a leader of a truly awful team, always assume that you know best. Period. Don’t bring other leaders or trusted team members in on the audition process. You’re fully capable of assessing the competency, character, and calling of EVERY potential musician or tech who tries out.
One of your team members might pick up on an issue that you supposedly missed, and that would be quite unacceptable. Sure, as a hip worship leader you can “be vulnerable” and admit mistakes like “caring too much” or “trying too hard in your pursuit of excellence.” But if they try to call you on a real mistake, things will not end well.
Tactic #5: Never Say No
Let’s face it: it’s SUPER awkward for you to say “No” to someone who isn’t qualified spiritually or musically. So if you struggle with confrontation, just have a “No NO policy.” That makes life soooo much easier in the short term.
And if you invite someone on the team who you find is devastatingly pitchy, or tragically off-tempo, or is just plain weird, start scheduling him less and less. Eventually, he’ll quit and go to another church.
So again, you don’t have to do all these tactics—or even most of them—to have a truly terrible team. Just practicing one or two of these appalling audition tactics can ensure an unhealthy ministry for years to come.