Stage Presence

I got an email this week from a worship pastor in New York. I thought I would post his questions and my answers in this blog...

Was wondering if you could share how you ‘test out’ someone’s stage presence before allowing them to be a part of the worship team at Church on the Move. I realize there’s an interview process and I’ve watched some of the video blogs you guys have done but how do you know how someone will act on stage during worship until you put them out there?

On the same note… do you change your mind and take them off the team if they aren’t what you expected once they’re on stage?

“Testing out” someone’s stage presence is definitely a process. I am very slow/careful in putting someone on our stage to help lead our congregation if I’m unsure how they’ll react in front of a crowd. Here are a few things I do to assess their stage personality...

  • If they have a successful audition and their talent level is sufficient to join our team, I spend 30+ minutes talking to them about what I expect of them in terms of their personality on stage. I can usually tell from their audition if they are outgoing, shy, nervous, etc. But to make sure, I ask them lots of questions about their motives and their long term expectations, and I explain to them what I expect of them once they join our team.

  • Before anyone ever has the chance to hit the stage they must first attend weekly rehearsals for several weeks. They need to see what we expect from our band and singers and how to prepare.

  • During our last couple of run-throughs I expect all of our players and singers to be in “full show” mode. They must perform the worship set as though the room is packed. This is the only way I can get an idea of how they will react emotionally to each of the songs.

These steps give me a very good idea of how team members will act when the service actually starts. Also, all our guys know that I will be assessing and correcting their performance throughout rehearsals. No one, no matter how long they’ve been on the team, is immune from criticism. Constant evaluation, which is something I let them know about in the interview process, is to be expected. That way no one gets complacent.

This leads me to the second question...

If I feel that someone on our team has stopped taking direction and has tuned me out, they are dismissed. If they are unable to make the required adjustments to their vocal performance or their stage presence, their stage time will be dramatically decreased until they can show improvement. One of our sayings around here is, “If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.” And the only way to grow as a worship team is to have people on stage that can take direction and continue to grow as musicians and as communicators. This goes for singers and players alike.

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Andy Chrisman
Worship Pastor
Andy came to Church on the Move in 2005, having been in the music industry for over 25 years. He's dedicated to raising up the next generation of worship leaders, and even though he spent many years with the group 4him, he says he's "having more fun now than I ever did on the road."