Our first worship leader roundtable is all about auditions. Four worship pastors from different churches discuss how they do auditions in their church. What mediums do they use to announce their auditions? What does the lead up process look like? What does the actual audition look like? How do they tell people no? What happens after the audition? All these questions are answered on this episode of the Worship Team Podcast!
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Our Roundtable Guests:
Brenton Collyer – @brentoncollyer – www.brentoncollyer.com
Chris Vacher – @chrisfromcanada – www.chrisfromcanada.com
Justin Bell – @justinemerybell
Audition For Change E-Book (by Chris Vacher)
Audition Email Template from C4 Church
Calvary Monterey Online Worship Application
Calvary Nexus Audition Documents
Cypress Church Audition Documents
Sierra Church Online Application
Alex Enfiedjian 00:11 Hello, everyone, and welcome back to another episode of the worship team podcast. My name is Alex Enfiedjian. And I am your host, I wanted to take a second to thank our longtime listeners if you’ve been listening since the beginning or just for a while now, thanks so much for tuning in regularly. I hope this podcast has helped you in some small way to lead better at your church. And if you’re a brand new listener, Hello, and thanks for tuning in. I really hope that you liked this episode. And I want to encourage you to go back and listen to all the other episodes we’ve done. I try to do one episode a month. And I try to keep them as helpful and practical as possible. So check out the backlog of episodes. And you can do that either at my website, Alexon music comm or right within your podcast app. Speaking of your podcast app, I wanted to take a second to ask you to leave me a review and a rating on iTunes. And I don’t ask this often, actually almost never. But I’m asking now. So if you’ve liked this podcast, or if you’ve gotten something out of it that that’s been helpful and valuable to you, could you just take a minute out of your schedule to to write a review for me, you can do that right within your podcast app on your iPhone if you’re using the default one, or you can do it on iTunes. And I’ll put a link in the show notes today that just says click here to write a review. And so that would be super helpful. If you could write me a review, it helps get the podcast out to more people. Today, we are trying something new, we’re going to be doing a worship leader Roundtable. I’ve been wanting to do this for quite some time now, maybe five or six months. But it’s been hard to get everyone’s schedules aligned. Kind of the the idea is to do this maybe once every three or four months where we gather three or four worship leaders together to discuss a topic and trade ideas and share thoughts. And hopefully, you guys getting to hear how they do things that their church will be helpful for you as you figure out how to do things at your church. So today is the pilot episode of that we’re going to be talking about auditions. I’m really looking forward to sharing this episode with you. And in fact, why don’t we just jump right in and let the guys share their wisdom with us today?
Alex Enfiedjian 02:33 Hey, everybody, I’m here with my good friends, Justin Bell, Chris foshay, and Brenton Collier who have all been on the podcast before. And I’m really thankful that they’re here today. We’re kind of trying something different. It’s called a worship leader roundtable where we’re getting three different perspectives on on how to do auditions. So let me have the guys introduce themselves and where they are serving at their church and kind of what size church they work at. And so let’s start with you, Justin, go ahead.
Justin Bell 03:03 Hey, Alex. My name is Justin bell. I’m from Calvary Nexus. We’re a multi site church in Cambria, California. And we have about 1000 adults on a Sunday morning.
Alex Enfiedjian 03:11 Okay, Chris, we’ve got Chris vishay, who is coming back on the podcast, Chris, tell us where you’re from and kind of how big your churches?
Chris Vacher 03:21 Yeah, I’m the creative arts pastor at sea for church just east of Toronto. And yeah, we’re also multisite church. We’re carrying about 2500 people.
Alex Enfiedjian 03:29 Okay, and then we’ve got Brenton Collier, Breton. Tell us where you’re coming from and and how many people are at your church? Sure.
Brenton Collyer 03:37 Yeah. I’m Breton, and I’m from Monterey, California worship pastor at Calvary Monterey. And our church is about 750 on a weekend.
Alex Enfiedjian 03:46 Cool. So and the reason I asked what size your guys churches is not because you know, we care about the numbers per se, but because I think auditions are going to look different based on whatever size your church is. And obviously today we’re talking about auditions. And this is the first question and this is for all three of you to answer. Do you guys open your audition up to everybody? Anybody? Can anybody audition? Or do you have kind of a limited? Like, do you stand on stage and say anyone who wants to come audition? Come whatever, if you play the kazoo? Or if you play the spoon, you know, whatever, like, you can come audition. How does it work for you guys?
Unknown Speaker 04:27 You can’t play once, too. If they play one spoon, they’re out two spoons they’re in. Okay. Okay. So Brenda, do you guys open it up to the entire church?
Brenton Collyer 04:40 Yeah, that’s a great question for us, you know, the size of church that we are we’ve got a couple of worship leaders here. And my kind of vision for it has evolved a little bit over the years, but the short answer and we can probably get into the reasons of why and the vision behind it as we go but the answer is yes, I do. If anybody wants to come they Come and I try to do the audition with them personally, just because as a pastor of our church, I love to meet people and connect with them and hear their story and get to know where they’re at with the Lord. And how did become a part of our church. I don’t always have the time or the chance to do it. So one of our other worship leaders May. But you know, what that means is it’s a little extra time commitment, but I think it’s well worth it. I mean, there’s some people I kind of already know, like, you know, there’s really probably not a chance this person will get plugged into our worship ministry. But I still love to meet him and give him that chance and connect with them. So yeah, anybody?
Chris Vacher 05:41 Chris? No, we’re the opposite. So, I mean, specifically with instruments we have a certain sound we’re going for, and we have a certain lineup on our teams, and we have certain kind of roles we’re looking to fill. So you know, if you’re a kazoo player, even if you do place multiple spoons, you know, or if there are other instruments that sort of don’t fit. We, we love them. We’re glad they’re part of our church, but we don’t feel like we have to make an opening for them. I mean, we were looking for other things, too. Like we we only audition people who are part of our church like this is their home church, we’re not looking for people who are looking for just a place to play. People on our teams are followers of Christ, we believe that anyone who is part of our team is helping to lead worship. Not every church does that we do that. So there is there is a pastoral component to it. We’re looking for things like yeah, is it your church home? How else you also you involved? Are you part of a Connect group? But and then, but when it comes to instrument specifically, yeah, we’ve got a certain lineup we’re looking for. Okay, Justin, what are you? So?
Justin Bell 06:47 Yeah, pretty similar to both the guys I guess, kind of a little a little bit in between, we’ll use our process, which, which I know we’re going to talk about it a little bit, we have a process leading up to it, where we’ll find out, like Chris said, if if Calvary Nexus is number one, their home church, and then number two, we find out if they’re a Christian. And if neither of those things fit, and we won’t audition them, you know, I might spend time with them. And I might talk with them. And you know, try to you know, help them to work through those things. But I won’t audition a person who’s not a believer, or doesn’t call our church, their home church. And then also, in addition, if they played kind of an off the wall instrument that we don’t need, generally, we won’t audition them. Although we have in the past, we have a guy who plays trumpet. In our church, we have another guy who plays saxophone in the flute. And we’ve used him a couple times. And he’s, I mean, he just adds a lot whenever he plays. So I try to be open to new stuff. But generally speaking, you know, we stick to the main instruments that are that are being used in most worship recordings today. Cool.
Alex Enfiedjian 07:59 Okay. So when you’re going to have an audition, and you’re like, Okay, we’re gonna make this available to either for some of you, everyone, or for some of you a specific group of people. How do you get the word out? Like, should I announce it from the stage? And then get all these kind of not great people? Or should I stick to a specific channel and only aim for this group of people? How do you guys get the word out about your auditions?
Chris Vacher 08:21 Yeah, the the the first time we did auditions, I’ve been here at the church for two years. And the first time we did auditions, it had been a long time since doing auditions before that. And so we did use stage time on Sunday morning, because it was the first time it was something new. We wanted people to know that this is something that we were going to be doing now that I was here. So we did a short little video that we ran on Sunday morning, we use that video on social media and in our kind of monthly, you know, our regular distribution channels. But part of our process is a video audition. That’s, I know, we’re going to talk about process. And so we wanted to sort of communicate in the medium that we were asking people to communicate back with us. And so that was video. Now we do it mostly just through social media, like people personally in our teams, our worship leaders, our church wide social media, we don’t advertise it from the front. Okay, anyone else?
Justin Bell 09:11 Yeah, we, it really depends if if I need musicians, if we’re low on musicians, then we’ll do something that we call an open audition. And I’ll explain that a little bit more as we get into the process and the nuts and the bolts. But that’s something that we’ll announce we’ll put it in our announcements we’ll promote on social media so that we can get as many people out as possible. But in addition to that, I mean we have I have one on one auditions, going throughout the the entire year that we have a card with with our Bolton like most of you guys probably have we call it a Connect card. And there’s a little box on there that says reach and if they click that box, then somebody calls them to help them to get involved in the ministry. If if they find out on the call that they’re interested in worship ministry that gets on my desk and then I started the process. With that person leading to a one on one audition, Brandon,
Brenton Collyer 10:04 yeah, so we do a little bit of all of that kind of stuff as well. You know, I tried to if we can, once or twice a year, do the, you know, from the from the pulpit announcement, usually the spring and the fall seem to be kind of good seasons to do that catch a lot of people there. And, you know, we do at all, all of the application and everything that they fill out is all online. So it’s really easy. So we usually what we’ll do is announce it and then say like, Hey, if you’re interested, there’ll be someone in the Welcome Center that’ll talk with you about it, you can, you know, register, or at least give get us your info right then and there to computer in the Welcome Center. So we’ll do it that way. And then we’ll just do a day where we do a whole bunch of auditions. But most most of the people that come through, or people that either just find me after service and said, you know, hey, I saw you on the stage. Can I talk to you about helping lead? And that’s neat. And I usually always try to collect their information. You know, I used to say, yeah, you know, on online is the application, here’s the web address and fill it out. And I found that that kind of fell through the cracks a lot. So I always try to collect their info, and then send them the link, and then I have a way to follow up with them. So yeah, it kind of one on one things. And then and then we also it’s just on the website, you know, if you take a second, if you’re you know, halfway interested, you can find it pretty quick where to serve in the worship ministry. So I’ll just get emails from time to time that pop in Hey, so and so wants to get involved. So that’s nice. don’t have to do anything. You know? Yeah, that’s
Justin Bell 11:35 cool. Can I say something about that real quick? Yeah, I think if you’re in a season where you’re needing musicians, then you have you want to go above and beyond and you know, if you want to get their info, follow up with them. If you’re doing well on a musician’s put the ball in their court, I think is a good idea. If they if they’re not driven enough to contact you to get on the worship team, then they’re probably not serious about it. I don’t mean to, you know, be a jerk. But saying, it’s just, you know, yeah, that’s just for whatever it’s worth.
Chris Vacher 12:07 Yeah, and I’ll add to I have, I have like at a pre built email, we do the same as Brian, we haven’t, the first step is online. And so I have a pre built email. So anytime I get a contact from somebody, or somebody comes to me after service says, Hey, the first thing is, you know, I can really quickly just copy paste this email with all the instructions, all the expectations, and then the link to the online form. And then, you know, it’s not the every time I’m having to type out. Oh, yeah. Where’s that link? What was the? What was the YouTube link to that video? Where do we find those instructions? It’s just, it’s all it’s already saved. It’s already built. And it just goes out real quick.
Alex Enfiedjian 12:40 Yeah, template. That’s good. Okay, so So, one thing that I’ve tried in the past, and maybe you guys have done this, too, is instead of doing like an open call, like anyone who wants to audition can come audition. I’ll like put something really specific in the bulletin that says, like, looking for drummers with experience of an intermediate to advanced level, like, I specifically need this type of musician. Do you guys ever do that?
Justin Bell 13:05 We haven’t, but I’m thinking about doing it. Because we’re really, we seem to always struggle with drummers at our church. So I’m actually think I’m thinking about doing that for the first time. Okay.
Alex Enfiedjian 13:18 Okay, so the next question, then say, you’ve got the announcement out there, people are interested. And we’ve kind of you guys have already kind of explained some of this. A lot of you’re leading up to the audition is online. So you’re you’re meeting with people, you’re maybe do you guys do interviews with people who are interested in playing like before they even before they even get to audition? Do you sit down with them to get to know their story? Or do you? Do you just collect that information online? And to take their word for it?
Chris Vacher 13:45 Yeah, for me, it depends on the person. It depends on if if they’re known to our community or not. So I just met yesterday, actually, with a guy who’s big, and he and his family been coming for about a month. And every Sunday he’s been here, he’s talking to me about joining our worship team. So sometimes that’s like, great, great initiative. I also want to know more of your story. And so I met with him yesterday, and we went out for coffee. And that’s what we did, like, just heard his story and heard about his experience, and how did he end up at our church and, and then part of that conversation is laying out expectations. If you were to be part of our team, here’s what we expect. And we have some expectations around like we don’t For example, we don’t do a midweek rehearsal, so we have really high expectations for personal preparation, we have high expectations for gear, with like everything to a click, we do everything with any year. So you’ve got to be able to bring that to the table in a sense as a musician. And so if like before we even get there, they say like oh man, like I can only play once every three months. Well, we need we need more than that we have higher expectations. So I will often do that before especially if they’re unknown if they’re new to our church. I’ll have a conversation like that before we even go down the road in the process.
Justin Bell 14:56 Yeah, so for us, you know, if If I don’t recognize the name, and I don’t know who the person is, if they if they get through the first two steps of our process, and I still don’t know who they are, then I’ll either ask around or, or maybe we’ll sit down together or, or you know, like Brendan said, we’ll I’ll even ask them questions after the audition. What we do is we we first asked them to read a book, by our pastor wrote a book called fruitful worship. You can get it on village church leaders.org, by the way, for free. But we have them read that book. Because we want to make sure that they understand what we believe about worship what our theology worship is. And then we have them fill out, we call it a questionnaire, that it’s the same sort of thing as an application, and it has about 11, various questions, just really finding out where they’re at spiritually. Are they a believer? Do they have any experience? Our last question on there that we added a couple of years ago is, is there anything in your life that would disqualify you from being in ministry? And you know, that, that’s just that that’s a good time just to find out if there’s anything questionable going on in their lives, and usually people put down something that it’s like, no, that’s, that’s not a, that’s not a big deal that you, you know, you still candy, when you were fired from the store, you can still play on the worship team. But if we see anything weird on that application, or anything that kind of gets our attention, like, you know, maybe they’ve left their last three churches because they didn’t like their pastors or something. We’ll look into that a little bit more. So it just kind of depends on from person to person, but but I’m, we’re really big on putting the ball in their court, and we figure if they’re not willing to go through those first two steps, then they’re probably not going to show up for practice. Yeah, that’s
Alex Enfiedjian 16:46 good. That’s really good. So it sounds like a lot of you guys are doing the online, informational slash information collection process on your websites and stuff like that, which is really cool. I kinda was old school and was doing it through paper, like, someone would come up to me and say, I’m interested in, in auditioning, and I’d give them here’s our, our culture, here are our expectations of you. Here’s what we’re looking for. Read through that. And then email me but you guys are doing it all online. And I think that, you know, that is the future of, of auditions. I think even for a small church. When you say,
Brenton Collyer 17:21 Yeah, it’s pretty easy. I mean, there are even some free resources and some things through Google, you know that you can set up a questionnaire pretty quick and easy and simply and sounds like most of us are using a lot of online tools for communication and distribution anyway. So that’s even like another like, under the radar way to find out like, are they you know, savvy online and with computers, are they going to be able to figure this out? And that’ll kind of help you determine where they’re at in that area as well.
Alex Enfiedjian 17:49 That’s really good. So So if like, our listeners are wondering what your online collection process looks like, they could probably just go to each of your websites, and I’ll link that in the show notes. And, and they can go there and see and kind of steal your forms, maybe for themselves. Would that be cool? Absolutely. Hey,
Chris Vacher 18:10 Alice, one thing we do in our online part is that we do a little video invitation. And we intentionally we do a lot of video in our church. And so like it, we invest a lot of time and resources in our video. But with this one, we actually just do it like literally a pop up on my MacBook and hit record. Because that’s the kind of video we want back from people we want. We don’t want them to spend hours and hours and hours on video production. That’s not really what we’re looking for. In addition, basically, I want to know, can you play Can you sing? What’s your gear like? And And usually, you know, most worship leaders have the musical ability you can identify, even if you can’t hear every note, or you can hear like all of the tone, you can identify whether they’re going to fit or not in your team. And so, to sort of put that thought in their mind, we did it from our end, like we gave people permission to say no, we’re looking for kind of a lower caliber video, literally flip open your Mac Book, hit record, have the audio track going and just play or saying find the key that’s right for you. So that’s that’s one thing that we’ve heard from people, they’ve really appreciated that the video production pressure is way down. Because really the first step is we wanna hear you play.
Alex Enfiedjian 19:19 that’s intentional. That’s good. Mm hmm. It seems like most auditions actually have two auditions, right? It’s like the the one on one audition, which either happens in your office, or via a cheap video submission on YouTube, right? That’s like the first step to even getting a real audition when you guys say like, you shouldn’t just say, hey, come audition. Like on the stage with our team. You’ve got to like vet them first. And so you either do that after church in your office, or, you know, like on an online submission of a video and then you guys watch that and you say, okay, they look ready. They look good. So what’s the actual audition itself look like? Like for each of your churches?
Brenton Collyer 20:01 Yeah, that’s a great question. So, in that after they fill out that application, they download an audition packet, which has specific songs for them to prepare for that audition. So I’ll say, Okay, which one did you pick? And they’ll let me know. Great. So I’ll play and sing if it’s a vocalist, they’ll sing along, and then have vocalist sing, lead on a song and also harmony on a song, guitar player, they can play electric player we haven’t plugged in. But then keys, drums, bass, we get up on the stage, we run through the system, we listen to the tones. For drums, we play with the click. And usually I invite a bass player to play with the drummer. And vice versa for bass players auditioning, you know get up on stage, run through the ears, run the click and, and a little tip I like you know, I usually just get right into the music of it, you know, say Hey, welcome, let’s pray and then start the song. Because I was found when I tried to like chat with people and welcome that. They’re just uncomfortable the whole time until they get over that like, okay, I did not think so. I usually just cut to the chase get right to it. And then afterwards, I’ll say okay, great. Good job. Let’s chat a little bit. Talk about kind of where we’re at. Chris.
Chris Vacher 21:17 Yeah. So our video audition is actually the the first step in our process. By the way I say process. And you always say in process, is that a Canadian thing? I don’t know if I’ll keep saying process and you guys can catch up. And so our our guiding one of our one of our guiding kind of leadership values in our worship ministry is Psalm 7872. Talking about David that he Shepherd Israel with a bright heart and guided them with a skillful hand. And so we talked about that all the time. In our worship ministry. My people are, they’re sick of me. They’re sick of hearing me talk about it. But it’s all over talking heart and hands all the time, heart and hands. And so in our audition process, we are looking for both we’re not just looking for, are you a killer guitar player. And we’re also not only looking for are you a really nice person, we’re looking for both we’re looking for character, and competency. And so we use the audition process to like fill our teams with people like that. And then we use our ministry to develop those things in our people as well. So the video audition is the is the first step. And we asked people to do that, and that like that fills the pool. And then we schedule audition dates. And we don’t invite everyone who does a video audition. And we look through the videos. And we’ll invite some of those people to a live audition, which is normally in the evening, we give them two or three nights to choose from, we bring a full band, including worship leaders we have for the worship leaders who are part of our church. And we have at least one worship leader at all of the auditions. And we do a full out we use Planning Center to schedule it. We put songs and keys in there, we invite people in we like we throw them in the deep end right away. We do click track, we do everything and whatever their instrument is. They play that instrument in the team and we have a full team around them. And then same thing like Bretton like we just, you know, you’re over the top encouraging, you’re so thankful they’re there, you’re giving them water, you’re making sure they’ve got everything you’re, you know, you’re patient with them. You never want the audition to depend on whether or not like they they’re feeling jumpy or nervous. Now that might be part of like the development process out of the audition, but you don’t want them to, like botch the moment because they didn’t have water. Like let’s let’s set people up to succeed as best we can. Especially in our context, when we’re not inviting everyone like they’ve already made it over the first hurdle. So they’ve got the skill, they can do that, like we’re seeing some good things. Now let’s really help them succeed.
Alex Enfiedjian 23:47 So can I ask you a follow up question. So you say you don’t invite everybody. So do you only do you set up a whole audition night for just one electric guitar player? Or do you have three electric guitar players? And they all take turns? Or do you do an electric guitar player and a female vocalist auditioning at the same time? And how do you listen to how they’re doing with all that noise going on?
Chris Vacher 24:09 Yeah, so we’ll do one audition slot per person or audition slots are 45 minutes. And that’s about like 30 minutes of music and 15 minutes of conversation. And then some some changeover is, yeah, in a normal audition process for us, we will have like 10 to 15 people. So over the course of two or three nights, we’ll do five or six people a night. And it’s all if we don’t line up the same people in the same room. Sometimes it works out that way. You know we’ll have four or five female vocalists all back to back, but we audition them individually.
Alex Enfiedjian 24:41 And so it’s 45 minutes per each female vocalist and you’re just there for like four hours or something with some of your volunteer team members.
Chris Vacher 24:50 Yeah, and because we do auditions twice a year, and because people on our team, they want to be part of bringing new people on our team. One of the one of the give and take with musicians in our church is like we have really high expectations. But we’re also going to build our team with really great musicians. So you’re, you’re gonna have the joy of playing with other really great musicians. So they want it, they want to be part of that, and it’s a couple times a year, we give them a lot advance notice, like, we’ll give them two or three months notice on the dates, and we have multiple, and also, we’re not asking them to be there for three nights, we will, we’ll change the team up depending on who’s available.
Alex Enfiedjian 25:26 And you do the same two or three songs per person, like per audition, so the band just keeps playing the same tube, but you keep cycling through people.
Chris Vacher 25:35 So we do the same thing as Britain, we will live depending on instrument we’ll give them so like if it’s a drummer, we might do only King forever, I think like has that big drum intro. Or if it’s a guitar thing, like we’ll do it, we’ll give them songs that have a guitar lead line over, it’s a keyboard player, we’ll give them like, waiting here for you by Martin Smith, there’s something we want, we want them to do songs, at least one or two of the songs where their instrument is the feature thing. And they get to choose the key and, and then our band just preps those through Planning Center like they normally do for a service.
Alex Enfiedjian 26:09 That’s good. Justin, how does your audition look like?
Justin Bell 26:12 Yeah, so um, well, and let me just say that ours is really evolved a lot over Am I allowed to say that in the Christian conversation. It’s really evolved over over the time that I’ve been overseeing the worship ministry, which has been for about eight or nine years at this point. And the reason that I say that is, is because I think it’s really important for listeners, if you have a church of like, 100, your process should not look the same, necessarily as ours. I think the bigger your church is, and the more complex your worship ministry is, the more complex your process should be to get involved. If you have 100 person church, and you’re fine with the guy who just started learning how to play guitar, and he has $100, Yamaha, don’t put him through all of this stuff, it’s you’re gonna have a different process. So but with saying that, so what we do is, we have those first two steps, they have to read the book, they have to fill out the application. We’re not doing a video tryout yet, but it’s something that I’m definitely thinking about doing. So what we do is we have about five songs that we choose. And we try to choose different songs based on instruments and also based on tempos. We’ve auditioned drummers before that are really good at fast song, and they’re really terrible at slow songs kind of like Lars from Metallica. You know, it’s just certain different things just don’t work as well. So so we pick those different songs. And what we do is we’ll schedule a full band to be there, kind of like what Chris was talking about. And they’re all prepared to play through all the songs. And we’ll schedule people. And we usually do about 30 minute increments. And I’ll invite a bunch of my worship leaders to come be a part of it, we have, we actually have about 20 worship leaders in our church, and 14 different worship teams. So I invite them to come. because number one, I want them to have an opportunity to hear the new people that are auditioning, because I found that I can, I can involve new people in the worship ministry, but if they’ve never heard them, they don’t want to use them. So I invite them to come and be a process. And we actually have a piece of paper, that is a pretty complex rating scale, where they’ll rate them based on their tempo based on their pitch based on their tone. We even have one on their pet stage presence, which I know kind of sounds fleshly. But but we have all these different categories where they can rate them on a scale, and then they can write down comments. So what we’ll do is they show up, we’ll pray for them, first of all, and then I’ll ask them, which song they would like to start off with, because that’s usually a nice icebreaker for them. There’s one that they really feel good about, and they’ve mastered, and will allow them to do that one first. And then I’ll try to pick something that I feel like is the opposite of what they just picked. If they’re a singer, and they picked melody, I’ll pick a song that does harmony. You know, if they picked a slow song that I want to hear the fast song, and sometimes we’ll throw in just for fun, a song that they weren’t prepared for. And the reason I do that is because I want to see how they do just on the fly, are they able to learn song really quick, because we’ve actually audition people before that did phenomenal at the audition, because they had practiced the songs 100 times for weeks and weeks and weeks. But when it came to playing a worship service, and they had four days to prepare, it didn’t go so well. So we like to kind of get a sense for you know, how they do on the fly. So what we’ll do from there is I’ll collect all of those, those responses that I’ll get, we usually have about 10 people on the panel, maybe seven of them are worship leaders, and then three of them are various worship musicians. We’ll bring in a drummer bassist, a guitarist, and then I’ll go through those with the There’s another pastor that assists me in the worship ministry. And we’ll just kind of decide, you know, do we want this person in? And the reason I do that is because just in case for some reason, if I think, man, this guy is an amazing electric guitars, and then all nine of the other people said, No, we don’t think he’s great. And we also put a question on there, would you use him on your team? Because some, some times we find the worship leaders, they’ll say, yeah, this guy’s amazing. He’s really great. He should be in the worship ministry, but they wouldn’t ever use them on their team. And that’s kind of telling. We actually had a guy at our church for a while that used to be a teacher at Musicians Institute in LA, a phenomenal guitar player. And, but he was still playing like it was the 80s. So he didn’t fit super well within our worship ministry. And I found out through that process that most of my worship leaders didn’t want to use him. So what we’ll do from that point, as we’ll follow up, are we talking about follow up yet how we respond or that’s the next question? Well,
Alex Enfiedjian 31:00 yeah, that’s the next question. But So real quick, this is your once a year open or open audition when you do this, Justin, and how many nights does it take for you to to get through all of the people that want to try out?
Justin Bell 31:14 Yeah, we usually Yeah, we do it once a year. And we’ll usually do it on a Sunday after church, and we’ll just get it done in one day. And then depending on the need throughout the rest of the year, I may have one on one auditions. You know, like I said earlier, if I if I get a drummer, fill out a Connect card. I’m going to get him in here ASAP. to audition. If I get a singer. We have quite a few of those. I may tell them to wait for our next open audition.
Alex Enfiedjian 31:41 And and when do you guys find is the best time to do auditions. Like I think Chrissy said middle of the week, nighttime evenings. Justin, you said after church? I mean, those work for you guys. Yeah, I
Chris Vacher 31:54 think he’s got to find what works for your culture. We’re suburbs. So we have a lot of people who are driving. So we do. Yeah, evenings, I think we start we go from like seven till 10. The last one will end. If people want to be part of it. They will say yes to the audition time that you give them.
Alex Enfiedjian 32:10 Yeah, that’s good. All right. So you’ve you’ve auditioned these people. Here’s the next question. How do you tell people? No, how do each of you go about telling somebody? Sorry, you’re not good enough. Here are some areas to work on. Let’s start with Brenton
Brenton Collyer 32:25 Yeah, I think just quickly, and honestly, you know, if I can tell right then and there, I don’t, I don’t say I’ll call you. I’ll just I’ll just tell him. So usually, it sounds about like this, you know, thank you for being here. You know, after playing with you, I can tell you, you don’t have this skill level to play with our team. So we’re not going to plug you in. But you know, and I love to give people some things maybe they can work on. And, you know, maybe invite them to come back the next year or the next time. But yeah, I just think being really honest. And doing it quick, pulling the band aid off. And I think people respond well to that and respect that. And that’s good, Chris.
Chris Vacher 33:09 Yeah, we we tell people right up front at the very beginning, they’re going to get one of three answers. And it’s either going to be yes, no, we’re not yet. And so we set them up with that expectation right from the very, very beginning, literally in the first email that I send them with instructions it has in that email, you know, if you if you’re invited to a live audition, we’ll do this and then we will give you one of three answers. So a yes is Yeah, like the guys have said like yeah, our worst your you’ve got this skill level, you know, the character stuff. We’re excited about our worship leaders would schedule you and if you’ve got multiple worship leaders at your church, I’ll echo that like you make sure that your worship leaders will be willing to schedule them on teams. And then it’s like, Okay, great. You’re in you know, you’re you’re part of the team and now we’re going to find that we’re going to find a Sunday and then the step is like find Sunday’s make sure you get them in. If it’s a no, you know, for us, we will say no, either on a skill side or on a character side. And we’ve told people before like, there are some character things that we’re wondering about and man you can play circles around these people. But if there’s some things we’re concerned about, and so because we love you and want to see you grow as you follow Jesus, you’re part of our church like I’m, you’re still your pastor, and so stay because they, you know, don’t leave the church over this. And this isn’t this isn’t a death sentence. But there there’s a reason for No. And sometimes on the skill side, it’s just like, yeah, either. Because we do video auditions as the first step. It’s rare that somebody just crashes and burns in a live audition. It’s usually more around like, yeah, it’s the guy who still plays like it’s the 80s or it’s the woman man she can sing, but her tone it there’s just nowhere for it to blend with our existing singer. So sometimes it’s a no because of that. We were not able to tell people right away because we do all of our auditions so it might take us two or three days to do all of the auditions and then I do some debrief are worse. Leaders are actually the ones who decide yes or no, because they are the ones who schedule people on our teams, not me as the pastor. So if if you know worship leader a is leading a Sunday, he schedules his team. So ultimately, the worship leaders make the decision. And I’m there as part of the process. But that just takes time. We need to do that together.
Alex Enfiedjian 35:19 Yeah. So how do you Chris, tell people? No, on the video audition side?
Chris Vacher 35:24 Oh, yeah. So wait. So once people are kind of, yeah, they’re in the pool, they’ve submitted their info, they get a quick response, like an auto response. Thanks for it, we’ll be in touch. And then once we go live with live auditions, the people who were invited, they get an email and an invitation to schedule the people who aren’t invited to to audition. It depends on like, the level of conversation and the level of relationship anywhere from you know, it’s a quick email. Thanks for doing this. Really appreciate it. We’re not gonna invite you in this time. And sometimes, depending on personality history, it’ll be a phone call. You know, if somebody shows up at your church, and they are like passionate, passionate about worship ministry, and they do all the steps, and they’re really excited, and then they get back an email, it’s like, thanks. But no, thanks. You got a bit of I think you got a bit of a pastoral responsibility to like help them understand the process and help them along. So sometimes it depends, but we always communicate to people if they’re not invited to a live audition, we communicate Why? That’s good. All right, Justin, how do you tell people No.
Justin Bell 36:21 So we used to do it in person or on the phone, and we’ve moved to email. I have a little bit of heartburn about that, because I know emails, not as personal. But the reason that we did that is because it’s a very emotional subject to talk about. And we found that people didn’t remember anything about the conversation that we had. All they remember is that churches really mean and they told me, we can’t sing on their worship team. So we moved to doing email, because we wanted to make sure that it was very clear that they would be able to read over it a couple of times. And in what we do is, is sometimes there Yes, there are those people where we just have to tell them, Hey, we’re really sorry. But we just don’t think that this is your calling. But we you know, we think that you’re, you know, you may be very gifted in other ways. And, you know, we don’t want those other ministries to miss out on you. For the people that we tell not yet. We’ll give them we’ll give them personal recommendations based on what we feel like they need to grow on and we’ll give them solutions for that. Like we, you know, we may say, Hey, you know, your, your timing is just a little off you, you tend to speed up in songs. So we suggest practicing with a metronome. Or we’ll say, hey, you’re a great singer, but you’re pretty consistently flat, when you get too high notes. So we really suggest that you sing long tones or invest in getting, you know, Book of vocal lessons. And, and I’m just a big fan of putting the ball in their court. Because then they can’t say, Man, that that church, they just they I guess I’m just not good enough for their worship ministry. But we can always say with confidence that we gave them a roadmap, that if they followed that roadmap faithfully and consistently, that they should be able to get to a point where they would be able to be in our worship ministry.
Alex Enfiedjian 38:16 That’s really good. Okay, that’s how you say no, so what happens if you say yes, and they pass the audition? Do you guys have like, okay, here, read this book and come to a few rehearsals first, just observe? Or do you just throw them into the deep end? What does it look like at each of your churches? Chris?
Chris Vacher 38:33 Yeah, you probably know the answer. We throw them in. And it’s like, man, if you’re on the team, you’re on the team. And we’ve already evaluated your skill. We’ve spent some time getting to know you and your heart and your character. And so yep, if it’s a yes, you’re in sometimes. Sometimes it’s like a delayed Yes. And this is different from the not yet but like, we just had a guy who many additional electric and it was a wow, but there was like mad. But before you get on with our teams, you got to spend like a couple days with a couple of our electric guitar players just to like really nail your tone. And you got to update some stuff in your pedal board. But man, once that’s done, and we’re good to go, yeah, you’re, you’re available and you’re eligible to be scheduled. And then I really encourage our worship leaders, like find an excuse to get that person on your team, for sure. In the next month. Don’t say yes to them. And then you know, you’re waiting three weeks, three months or six months, because then they’re gonna feel like, Oh, I thought you said I was part of the team. We also bring people into what we call creative community night, which is our version of team Knights. And those happen once every, like six to eight weeks. And we we say like it now you’re part of the team. So you’re part of the community. And so you better you better show up and be part of that too. There’s some expectation on the other side, but yeah, we get them we get them involved right away.
Alex Enfiedjian 39:44 That’s good. Okay, last question, then I guess Do you guys have like a probationary period?
Brenton Collyer 39:50 Yeah, there’s definitely a probationary period or a trial period. Usually it’s about three months and and so what I’ll do if someone does a great job at audition is, for me that the next step is to come, we do have a midweek rehearsal Thursday night. So I’ll do kind of what Chris does for his initial audition, then Saul scheduled them on Planning Center, there’ll be in the training position, it’s called, so whatever they’re on. So they’ll come early, I’ll make sure they’ve got the feel for Planning Center, I’d show them how to use our ear monitors, and all of that. And then they plug into a monitor and play along. And they can hear themselves and I can hear them, but they’re not coming through the house or in the mix. They’re not going to be playing that Sunday. So that’s kind of like a training kind of thing. And then we’ll do this schedule a month out. So if they audition at the beginning of the month, if it’s like a one on one, I’ll just say, Okay, let me schedule you for rehearsal come then. And I’ll say, you know, we won’t be scheduled until next month. And so their probation period begins the first time they’re scheduled for the next kind of several rotations. And, yeah, I just let them know that upfront, and to say, I’m going to get to know you, you’re going to get to know me, you know, in case, there’s just something’s not fitting, and I let them know, you know, it’s a big commitment to be a part of the team, a lot of time, a lot of investment you might find, you might be doing a great job, you might realize this is probably just a little bit too much for me right now. So it also gives them a chance to say, No hard feelings, you know, hey, this, I just feel like I’m not able to commit to this. That’s good.
Chris Vacher 41:26 Yeah, we don’t have an official, we don’t do an official probationary period. I mean, I guess, in a sense, like, everyone’s on probation. I mean, if there’s stuff that comes up in somebody’s life, it doesn’t matter if they’ve been on the team. For five years, we’re going to sit down and talk about it, because we’re driven. We’re always driven by that Psalm 7872. Like, we always care about skill, we always care about character. It’s not just, you know, to get in the pool. And so I will for sure, do some more intentional follow up for somebody like the first, second, third time they’re on. And I’ll also really lean on our worship leaders, like our worship leaders are really the ones who are spending the most time with their teams. But there isn’t, we don’t have an official kind of like, you know, dotted line can now you’re in, we do it right from the beginning. But, you know, I think pastor really, there’s, there’s sort of a responsibility, even just to help them develop and make sure, like, Brian was saying, like, you know, we talked about expectations, but now you’re in it, like, Is this too much? I mean, we ask our do we ask our teams to show up at 630 on Sunday morning, and in February, and Canada, that’s not exactly the most pleasant time of day. And so I try to keep conversation open, especially early in the process. And I try to keep them really motivated and encouraged to like, you know, if they’re the first time I see them on, you know, before the service between services after service, I’m cheering them on, I’m going up there, I’m asking him to show me their gear, if their guitar player, whatever, like, I’m just showing a lot of interest in their first couple times to really encourage them.
Alex Enfiedjian 42:57 That’s good. Alright, last question. Do you guys have any final thoughts for our listeners on on auditions in general, just a final encouragement each of you?
Brenton Collyer 43:05 Yeah, I’ll jump in there. You know, I think something for those of you who are listening that come from smaller churches, Justin had some great insight for you. And I came from a church in Florida about 2500, maybe not your size, Chris, and I came to a smaller church, here in Monterey. And, you know, the process looks different for everyone. But the way that I approach it, since I’m one of the pastor’s here at this church is, is I look at that audition time, as more than a musical time. So this might be different philosophically, you know, from from what you may want to do, but the way that I look at it is, I just say I want to plug these people in to our church family, somehow, some way it may be in the music team, it may not. And since our churches a little smaller, and since I’ve just put a high priority on that, we’ve got time to meet with, you know, pretty much everyone who comes along and realize bigger churches. And you know, like you said, Justin 14 worship teams, let’s just doesn’t work. But my thought, My philosophy is, you know, that audition time that’s, that’s, that’s a door to try to get people in, that’s not necessarily the wall that keeps people out. And so that that time for me to meet with them one on one personally, you know, maybe one or two out of 10 people ends up on a sanctuary worship team a pretty low percentage, but every single one of those people get some type of next step towards getting involved in our church family that might be just come a little longer, you’re brand new, that might be maybe get involved with the tech team, or that may be you need really need to be in a life group or a lot of times it’s musical instruction training like Justin was describing. But the goal for me is, since I’ve got the the time and I’m not flooded with dozens of auditions. I just approach that as this is a time Musical are not for me to figure out a way to get this person more integrated into the life of the family of our church.
Chris Vacher 45:09 Yeah, that’s really good. I mean, I think I think we’ve all said that. And to hear it again, like, depending on the size of your church, the process is going to look different. So it’s less about copying, and more about, you know, how can you sort of like, have all these things contribute to help you develop your own processes going to work best? Alex, I think, you know, I mean, the audition process is so fascinating that I actually wrote an E book on it. And it’s been surprising to me how helpful it’s been for people, but I guess it’s like, yeah, who spends time really dissecting the process? And I need to update it, because I haven’t. I haven’t updated that ebook since I came here. But now that we’re doing this, I’m going to update the ebook with like a, version one and version two. Because the church has that previously, we didn’t do videos, there’s a smaller church, more rural setting. So if people go, can I plug this like, go to Christian canada.com, slash auditions, and I’ll put the ebook there. And people can download it. And, you know, take, take what’s helpful and spit out the rest. But I think if you can think through, philosophically, Pastor, really, what’s the role of auditions in your community? We’ve each spoken about that. And then how do you do it in a way that like, helps you move the ball down the field, it helps you achieve vision, as a church, that’s what I’m really thinking about is when we do our audition process. It’s really part of us fulfilling our vision as a church, and we’re looking for people who bring that heart and hands that skill and character. And so it’s not just like we’ve all said, it’s not just like, can you jump over the fence, but we’re trying to do something here together as a community, and the audition process is what it’s in worship ministry. It’s one of the few ministries where you’ve got the opportunity to really evaluate and encourage people in this way. And so I just really encourage people, like spend time thinking through the process, philosophically and past early in a way that’s going to really benefit your community. That’s good. Justin, final thoughts for our listeners? Yeah, absolutely. I
Justin Bell 47:03 think one of the big things for for auditions is communication. You want to really make sure to communicate to the people up front, so they know what’s expected of them. So so they understand what the process looks like you’re communicating after. So they understand what are the next steps? Or if they didn’t make the team? What are the things that they need to work on? That I think the other thing is, is automation and organization, as much as you can automate your your ministry and organize it, the better if you’re typing up your welcome email every single time, it’s time to create a template. If you’re choosing you know, new songs every single time, you should look back to what did you do last year, and maybe update it for some new songs that are doing, the more that you can organize and automate things, the easier it’s going to be? And the better that things are gonna go.
Alex Enfiedjian 47:55 That’s really good. Thank you guys. Yeah, if you guys don’t mind, I’ll probably link to all of your resources. And Chris, I’ll link to your ebook on auditions. And maybe I can even get your first initial email template that you send to your people in some sort of format. And I can link that as well. So yeah, we want to help, we want to help all of our listeners just be able to do this. So we’ll give them the resources in the show notes for this. But thank you guys so much for being here. And I’m so thankful for the wisdom that you brought to the podcast and to our listeners today. Well, that’s it for today’s episode. I hope that this episode was helpful to you. I hope that you learned a few tips and tricks for your auditions. And I really hope that God bring some really talented, really godly musicians to your team at your church and I pray that You are faithful to disciple them and train them and pour into them well. So that’s it. If you can, please leave me a review on iTunes and otherwise I will see you back here next month for another helpful episode. God bless you guys as you lead your people in worship.