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Posted on Jul 5, 2013 in Resources, Worship Ministry | 2 comments

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do: Why You Need a Process for Incorporating New Talent

Dear Neil, I’ve decided to move in a new direction and find a different church to play at.” Potentially painful words to a blue collar worship leader’s ears. Perhaps, you felt you’d found that “missing piece” for your band: the drummer, the bass player, the keyboardist, the top-notch vocalist. But now they’ve fallen through the cracks…and sometimes it can be ugly.

Flickr Guitar Girl Walking Away

Several years back, I worked with my worship ministry leadership core to develop a process for integrating new musicians into our ranks (I’ll attach our 3-month plan as a free resource at the end of this post). People don’t expect a “process” from smaller ministries like ours and, to be honest, I sometimes feel a little awkward handing out hoops for people to jump through. Plus, each time I receive a note like the opening line of this post (happened this week), I stop and wonder if we should have the process at all. In those times, I remind myself that 1) this process was the result of prayer and collaboration with trusted individuals within our church, 2) it has the full support of our church leadership, and 3) there are BIG reasons why it’s REALLY important for our church (and for yours):

  • Our process vets hearts. We ask people to put in significant work at rehearsals before they ever see the stage on a Sunday morning. I want the people serving with me to be in it for the right reasons. There are definitely folks whose main interest is the spotlight and they seldom have the patience to pull a Jacob (I still think he was crazy to offer 7 years of labor for Rachel…she must have really been something! HA!).
  • Our process defends excellence. No matter how skilled or experienced a musician or vocalist may be (or think they are), they’re not accustomed to playing these songs with us, our way! The 3 month “vetting period” allows good musicians to find a groove with us; it allows rusty musicians to knock a little dust off before they’re asked to lead with us; and it allows a more gracious exit to those lacking in ability.
  • Our process checks culture. I always tell folks who apply with us that this process is for them, too: “It gives you a no-pressure opportunity to see if you enjoy playing/singing with us.” Good business leaders take culture into account when making a hire to protect their core values. And we would be wise to do the same, even though we’re living in the volunteer world.
  • Our process prevents drama. If you break up with someone you’ve been dating, it can be unpleasant. If you break up with your fiancè, it can be really ugly. If you break up with your spouse, it can get downright nasty! The same applies in churches, especially small-to-mid-sized (aka blue collar) churches.  Once someone plays/sings on Sunday morning, things are just more complicated. And the longer they’re serving on stage, the more complicated it gets. I’d much rather deal with a little disappointment early on than a big mess down the road. Wouldn’t you?

So when I get that note (whether it’s a disappointment or a relief!), I say, “That’s why we have the process.” And I whisper a prayer of thanks because I truly believe God honors our leadership’s prayers and our heart for the integrity of our ministry. We trust His infinite wisdom to sort these things out for the best.

Here’s our policy for your perusing/downloading pleasure:

Download (PDF, 45KB)

Do you have a process? What does it look like?


  1. Thanks for sharing, we have a similar process (, though it revolves more around the person’s general relationship with our church than with their musicianship. I find it’s also effective in minimizing drama. I hadn’t thought much about requiring 3 months of rehearsal before getting on stage, but might be worth taking a look at.

    • Absolutely! No one likes drama.

      Give it a try! You can tweak it to make it work for you…maybe your church would need something a little less formal or lengthy for starters but it’s been a really healthy thing for us.


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