Many times the first inclination when selecting members for the worship team is to get caught on either side of two extremes. It is easy to ignore someone’s inconsistent walk with God or arrogance when we’re dazzled by their amazing talent. Conversely, we may seek out the most humble and godly people available, without considering whether they have adequate musical ability. The balance in scripture seems to be to choose gifted musicians and singers with exemplary character and passion for God.
Selecting Members For Your Worship Team
The biblical use of singers and musicians in worship was most developed by King David who assigned different Levite clans to perform specific responsibilities within the Tabernacle. Worshippers were chosen for their skill, their heart toward God and also “David assigned them their duties by asking the Lord what He wanted” (1 Chronicles 25:8). This is a wise pattern to follow when auditioning new worship team members: seek the Lord’s will; and choose those with musical skill and godly character. Let’s break it down.
Since God is the one who came up with the idea of worship, He’s the object of our worship, and He knows the hearts of those who would audition, shouldn’t we pray and ask God who He wants on the team? The worship leader and other decision-makers should pray for wisdom and direction, and pray for God to draw the people He wants on the team.
It is also important to inquire about a potential team member’s prayer life. Ask how consistent their prayer and personal times of worship are. Ideally, candidates have already established good discipline in this regard, but if this isn’t the case it is not necessarily disqualifying. Find out about their willingness to learn and grow in this area and encourage prayer and consistent study of the Bible.
Humility and a teachable attitude are essential for worship team members. The importance of a servant’s heart and personal integrity cannot be over emphasized. You can serve the church setting up chairs or wrapping wires while working out major sin issues in your heart, but when you’re out front on stage more is required of you. Public ministry necessitates a higher standard of conduct than serving behind the scenes. High visibility invites more scrutiny and naturally holds you up as an example to be followed. The more pronounced leadership the more a person’s life should square with Gospel.
Worship team members should be mature, committed Christians; new believers are not necessarily excluded but it is wise to give them time to mature. They don’t have to live up to the same qualifications as elders laid out in 1 Timothy, but new converts can become conceited if given too much exposure too soon (1 Timothy 3:6).
Character is an important thing, but it isn’t the only thing. It would be very difficult to lead people in song if you can’t carry a tune in a bucket. It is vital for your team to include skilled musicians and singers. Here are a couple of things to consider when seeking talent:
- Be specific about what you need. For instance, when auditioning a pianist, do you need someone classically trained, who can read sheet music? Or maybe you need a keyboard player who can follow chord charts and has the ability to improvise?
- Determine the level of skill you are looking for. In a large church, you may have the luxury of a big pool of talent, but a smaller congregation is typically more limited; you may have to lower your expectations, and thus lower the bar.
As important as talent and skill are there is a distinction between musical ability and being called to worship. Not everyone who sings or plays is automatically qualified.
4. Church involvement
The following could just as easily be under the category of character. A potential team member should not only be attending church regularly, but they will be expected to serve in various capacities in the church. They need to be respected and shown to love the church and the people around them. If your church has small groups, they should attend one consistently and come recommended by their small group leader or others who know their character and can vouch for their participation. Consider requiring church membership.
In addition to their pledged commitment to Christ, to the church, and to excellence, new members must also be willing to commit to practice with the group and on their own. They must commit to grow with the team and in skill as a musician or vocalist. Each person should be willing to learn to play/sing with the team as the leader dictates, which can be very different from being a soloist. They must be willing to grow in skill, for instance, a guitarist shouldn’t say that they only know certain chords or refuse to play bar chords. If they don’t know them yet that’s okay, but they should be willing to learn even if it means taking lessons to improve.
Before potential members even audition, they should have the values and vision of the team spelled out for them. Come up with a worship mission statement and explain the principles of the team so you can ask if those are things they are comfortable committing to. For example:
- Worship is about God, not us.
- Serving is a privilege, not a right.
- No one on the team is irreplaceable or too big to fail, even the worship leader.
- We are not guaranteed a place on the team for life. You may serve for a season and move on to serve in another area of ministry.
Pure talent is not the sole criterion for selection, even enthusiasm, humility and willingness cannot be the driving criteria. The guidelines offered above are merely suggestions. There is no exact formula or manual, so we must be careful not to make rules that are extra-biblical and try to enforce them as scriptural mandates. Ultimately, the most essential step in auditioning worship team members is to exercise wisdom, and seek the Lord and hear from Him in the recruitment process.