Welcome to the Weekend Edition – Not to be confused with SNL’s version. I am trying something new and will be combining the two days to one posting. And, we will continue to look at elements of our worship. Today we are looking at the choir. If you are a Baby Buster or older and grew up in the church, you probably had choirs, cantatas, robes, SATB roles, and all the fixing of a good ole church choir. But in previous years, it is less than 40% of churches that have choirs. So why do we? Is there still a place for choirs? Is it a feasible option? And what are the pros and cons of having a choir?
The Bible talks of singing as part of the church, part of the Christian life. Ephesians 5.19 and Colossians 3.16 talk about the importance of singing. Revelations mentions singing in heaven. There are many references to instruments as part of praise. And a specific portion of the priests of the OT could even be considered an early choir. So, I would say choirs do have a role in Scripture. While there is no real command to have a choir, there is no prohibition either.
Why do churches seem to be fading out of using choirs.
– With stages geared more for a band, large spaces for choirs seem to be disappearing.
– Choirs take a heavy commitment from members and churches – rehearsal time (and time is a big issue), nursery for the time, new material to be purchased (and not breaking copy-write laws), sound system, rehearsal room, etc.
– Younger church goers seem to prefer a band and to be led in music, as opposed to committing to be involved in a choir.
– Younger Worship Pastors do not seem to be trained in leading choirs. This skill is getting harder to find.
– And members have a higher expectation of professionalism. Not every choir can be like Brooklyn Tab so we don’t even try to compete.
So why do need a choir?
– Choirs support congregational singing – they see many up front signing and it may prompt the congregation to sing.
– Choirs help singers develop skills and sharpen their talent.
– It is an excellent entry point to get people involved and serving in the church.
– It is one of the few ministries that is designed to spread across all generations, have both men and women, and can show diversity and teamwork to worshippers from the people on the stage.
– It can be a small group for someone in the church that needs it.
– It can add beautiful artistry to the worship, a sense a wonder, and a musical spectrum beyond what the congregation normally sings.
– It helps eliminate a “Star Solo” culture.
– And for churches that are filled up, a choir provides empty seats in the congregation.
When I was at Friendship (My last church), it was a joy to see our teens and our seniors sit side by side. I loved working with Walter, who led our choir. Walter and I had great team dynamic. I saw people start to plug in through the music ministry. And it was great to turn around and see my wife’s beautiful smile in the choir.
So, not every church culture is geared to a choir – but I hope every church considers the options and knows the strengths that a choir can bring to a church. A choir can bring great joy!
I close with Zach Williams chorus to his song ‘Old Church Choir’
I got an Old Church Choir singing in my soul
I got a sweet salvation and it’s beautiful
I’ve got a heart overflowing ’cause I’ve been restored
There ain’t nothing gonna steal my joy
No, there ain’t nothing gonna steel my joy