An experience like an audition can be horrifying for people, especially being rejected by common church members. So we do everything we can to alleviate the tension. We schedule auditions in 15-minute increments to keep them short. Also we have a little lounge with somebody from our team to greet them with coffee and treats. And we videotape our actual auditions. But it is important to us that no one from the team is in there when they are being video taped. We are always trying to create an environment that is free of the awkward American Idol panel moments. We send out music ahead of time along with our list of expectations and make sure to tell them what they can expect from us-when they will hear back from us and what the process entails. The point of this is to make them feel safe. If they see the team in there, then on Sundays they see these people leading them in worship who also rejected them. We always interview them first on video. And when we look over these things, we believe in the three Cs: character, chemistry and confidence.
After a day or week of auditions, we make a DVD and give it to our team. Everybody looks it over it, and then we get together to talk about it. Another important aspect of our process is checking references. I believe leaders have a responsibility to protect the people on their teams. Adding someone who shouldn’t be there is not good for anyone. Checking their references is a great way to find out who they are and make sure you are being excellent in your leadership. This is a good primary test, as well. Any person who is uncomfortable with a reference check is probably someone to be wary of.
In the end though, we are trying to minimize what could be a harmful experience for people. Film helps us do this, but it is also a great benefit. I can remember going back to a certain video, and on the third time, I saw her heart like I hadn’t before, and I invited her to be a part of the team.
Now, as you ask for excellence from your worship team, there are also ways for you to make sure you are up keeping up on your skills. Here are some things to think about.
Hone your leadership skills:
Read some of John Maxwell’s books, start with Leadership Promises for Every Day
Hone your technical skills:
Technical excellence has the same goal as musical excellence: help your community connect with God. And you can certainly do this through audio, video or lighting. Remember, bad tech is distracting and disconnects people. We’ve all seen people open their eyes and disengage when feedback blows through the house or the sound is terrible.
If you don’t have all the equipment of a Willow Creek, use what’s appropriate for your given environment. On the road, I use a Yamaha LS-916 Console. The 16-channel console cost between four or $5,000, and it handles my entire front of house and monitor mix on the road.
If you have the right gear, get a good engineer. I’ll take a good engineer over good gear any day of the week.
Prayerfully consider your technical purchases. I’m a big believer in good gear, but does HD video look so much better than SD video that it’s worth spending millions on it?
Read trade magazines: Start with Pro Audio Review, Mix Magazine, Pro Sound News, and the Sweetwater catalog.
Read the Buyer’s Guides of magazines (like the one in your hands now).
Hone your musical skills:
If you are a guitar player, bass player or a drummer, play with a metronome. Develop your time. One of the main earmarks of an amateur is they play with bad time. Acoustic guitar players always rush. Drummers always vary all over the map. And bass players don’t listen to the drummers.
Bass players, check out Norm Stockton’s instructional DVDs and bass resources that deal with sound.
Check out Musicadmey’s series of worship training DVDs. They have courses for guitarists, bass, drums, keyboards and vocalists.
Spend time with your team.
Plan a party and just relax together.
Visit Lincoln Brewster online.
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At 19, Lincoln recorded a demo that caught the attention of music industry insider and former “American Idol” judge Randy Jackson. That led to an invitation for Lincoln to tour with legendary rocker Steve Perry. Lincoln, who had accepted Christ before beginning work with Perry, eventually walked away from mainstream music, taking a job at his local church. That change in trajectory would lead to ministry opportunities he could never have imagined, including a recording career with Integrity Music and his current role as a senior pastor at Bayside Church near Sacramento, California. Years after leaving behind his rock star dreams, this husband and father once again finds himself sharing music with capacity crowds at concerts and festivals, this time leading them in worship with songs like “There Is Power,” “Made New,” “Today Is The Day,” “Let The Praises Ring” and “No One Like Our God.” His songs have been featured on 10 albums including his latest, God Of The Impossible, a reminder that God is bigger than anything we face and nothing can separate us from His love. It is a theme that echoes throughout Lincoln’s life: from a childhood overshadowed by abuse, to a life filled with forgiveness and a ministry that has inspired believers around the globe.