Guiding Passionate but Pitchy Singers to Their Best Fit

Reading Time: 3 minutes


As a worship leader, one of the most challenging situations you may face is auditioning a singer who, despite their passion and enthusiasm, simply doesn’t have the vocal ability to contribute to the team. Maybe they’re significantly off-pitch or struggle to hold a tune. They may even have “proper” vocal training but their traditional style doesn’t match your team’s pop vocals. In these cases, it’s important to recognize that no amount of coaching or practice is likely to develop their voice to the level needed for the frontline team. If you have a choir, problem solved – these singers can minister in that group. If not, read on!

Approaching the Conversation with Sensitivity

When you’re faced with this scenario, it’s crucial to approach the conversation with an extra measure of grace and sensitivity. This person has likely poured their heart into preparing for the audition, and they may feel a deep sense of calling to use their voice in worship. Hearing that they don’t have the necessary vocal skills can be a tough blow.

First of all, pray that the Lord will give you the words to say! As you frame the conversation, start by affirming the person’s heart for worship and willingness to step out in faith. Acknowledge the courage it takes to audition and the depth of their desire to serve. Then, gently explain that while you appreciate their enthusiasm, you don’t believe their vocal gifting is the right fit for the specific needs of the frontline team.

Being Honest and Encouraging

Be honest about the fact that developing their voice to the required level would be a significant challenge, and you don’t want to set them up for frustration or disappointment. Emphasize that this doesn’t diminish their value or negate their calling to serve in ministry.

Instead, guide the conversation toward exploring other areas where they can contribute their gifts. At every church there are any number of ministries desperately seeking volunteers.

Finding Alternative Roles in Worship Ministry

If they’re passionate about being involved in the worship ministry, brainstorm roles that don’t require vocal ability. They could help with stage setup, manage lyric slides, or even assist with worship planning and logistics.

The key is to reframe the conversation from a “no” to a redirection. Help them see that there are many ways to serve and make an impact, and their unique gifts are needed in the body of Christ.

Closing the Conversation with Gratitude

As you close the conversation, reiterate your gratitude for their heart and your belief in their value. Offer to connect them with leaders in other ministry areas and commit to walking alongside them as they discover the right fit for their gifts.

Remember, your role as a worship leader isn’t just to cultivate musical excellence – it’s to pastor and disciple the people God brings through your doors. Steward those relationships with care, even (and especially) in the most challenging conversations.

When Things Get Tough: Dealing with Disappointed Auditionees

Sometimes, no matter how kind and caring you are in your approach, a singer who doesn’t have the right vocal skills may not take the news well. They might have really believed that singing on the worship team was their calling, and hearing otherwise can be devastating.

In these situations, you might have to deal with some pushback. The singer could get upset and start complaining to everyone about how unfair the process was. In some cases, they might even try to get you in trouble, going to the church leaders and demanding that you get fired (true story!)

While this kind of reaction is definitely not fun to deal with, there are things you can do to protect yourself and your ministry. The most important step is to make sure you’re on the same page with your church leadership about how auditions work and the fact that some conversations might be a bit rough. Suggest they watch the American Idol auditions!

Help your pastors and other leaders understand that you’ll always treat people with kindness and respect, but that not everyone who tries out will have the right vocal abilities to be on the team. Let them know that you’re committed to helping each person find a great way to serve, but be honest that you might have to make some difficult decisions when it comes to singing.

It’s also a good idea to write down your audition process and what you’re looking for, so there’s a clear record of how you make decisions. This can help if anyone accuses you of playing favorites or being unfair.

Most of all, ask your leaders to trust your knowledge and judgment when it comes to these musical choices. They might not have the same understanding of pitch or vocal skills, so it’s important that they feel good about backing you up.

By having these conversations ahead of time, you’ll be in a better place to handle any drama that might come up from disappointed auditionees. And if you do end up in a tough spot, remember that your main responsibility is to God and doing what’s best for the church, not to any one person’s agenda.

Keep leading with honesty, compassion, and a commitment to being the best you can be, and trust that God will have your back as you work hard to serve Him well.

The Choir Crisis: What’s Causing the Decline?
Worship Team Auditions: How to Gracefully Handle the “Nos”

This Week’s Top Songs

Keep track of the top CCLI, Praisecharts, CCM and Hymncharts along with lyrics! There’s nothing like this list on the Internet! Go to the Top Songs page.

Find Hymns That Match Your Favorite Worship Songs

Which hymns go well with Bethel’s Goodness of God? Search at HYMNDEX.COM.

YouTube Worship Playlists!

From Worshipflow editor Don Chapman:

I like to listen to Youtube videos/podcasts as I drive around and have wished I could find a good, current playlist of all the top worship songs.

I can’t find any! So I made my own on the Worshipflow Youtube channel!

You’ll find playlists for the top CCLI, Praisecharts and CCM radio hits updated every week.

You May Also Like