I love the pursuit of excellence and I strongly encourage worship leaders to have auditions for their teams (see Five Reasons to Have an Audition Process for Your Worship Team). As you begin to hold auditions, there’s one thing you can’t forget.

Tend to the hearts of those auditioning.

Your team isn’t a cut-throat business opportunity. It’s not Hollywood or Broadway where those auditioning have agents and unions representing them. This is a worship team at a church. Above all, we must pastor the hearts of people.

Even above the needs your worship team may have, caring for people’s hearts comes first. Click To Tweet

Here are three ways to pastor the hearts of people who don’t pass an audition.

1. Be honest with people.

Believe it or not, people really want to know the truth. They don’t want to be coddled and told half truths which lead them to believe something that isn’t true. Be straightforward with words of grace and a heart of love as you share the results of their audition. Even though it might be challenging for people to hear, I’ve never seen a case where someone wasn’t thankful (even if it might take a few weeks or months for them to get to that place).

NOTE: How to communicate to these people? Though telling them over e-mail is an option, I’d try and tell people their results in person (this works unless you have a large amount of people auditioning). I would not text. If you have a lot of people auditioning, you’re going to need to have some assistance to help share the load in responding to people. It’s beneficial to have an audition team to help so that it isn’t just the worship leader’s sole responsibility.

2. Offer constructive feedback.

Validate what they did well and then include a few reasons why they didn’t pass. For example, you may mention that you loved their confidence and boldness, but that their vocal pitch seemed to be flat or their rhythm seemed to not flow. I’ve found that most people love and even crave honest, pastoral, constructive feedback given in love. That’s how we all grow and improve.

3. Give them practical options for how to grow.

Along with your constructive feedback, offer a game plan with some specific suggestions for how they can improve. List the names of people in your church or your city’s local music store that offer lessons. Even include the prices if you want. Make it as hard as possible for someone to come back to you and say you didn’t do a good job of coaching them through their failure to pass your audition.

If you make the shepherding of people’s hearts the priority, God will bless you and your team in amazing ways.

Maybe as a worship leader you’ve not handled this the best in the past. Or maybe you’re the person who hasn’t passed the audition yet. Either way, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below.

I’m Justin Rizzo. I enable worship leaders who feel isolated, overworked, and unfocused to experience peace, confidence and create thriving worship communities.

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Light of the World (Acoustic)


  1. I’ve struggled to give honest feedback in the past and naturally would do the coddling, half-truth thing. It took me being on the other end of someone beating around the bush while giving me feedback a few times to realize how confusing and unhelpful that really is. It feels so much more loving to receive the truth regardless of whether it’s a fun truth to share or not. Coddling and half-truths just create weird distance and end up making the person feel worse. Wish I could go back and redo a few auditions… anyway, Thanks for the great advice Justin!

  2. Cassidy Campbell

    Love it Justin! Great points and reminder of how to steward everyone God beings to us. Thank you for these. Keep it up.

  3. I had an audition at a ministry one time where the audition didn’t go very well for various reasons and the audition team made sure I got a list of people to get lessons from, but I didn’t feel like they really connected with me on a growth point. I kind of felt rejected, actually, because of the lack of feedback or guidance :/ The Lord ended up moving me to another state a month or two later, but I was still very hurt.

    He has been *so good* to take care of me on my worship leading journey, though 🙂 The hurtful things along the way only make me more tender toward people I influence and push me to become more excellent in the places I find myself either singing or leading.

    Still, I think that pastoring a heart is hands down the better choice as far as an audition team function.

    1. Justin Rizzo

      Kristin, thanks so much for sharing your journey with auditions. That’s so amazing that you’ve allowed these kinds of challenges to be used to better you as a leader and person. That’s challenging to do! Thanks again for sharing. -Justin

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