I have been in choirs for as long as I can remember. They are fun! I love the sound of a choir: voices blending, harmonizing, speaking the truth in song, a body of believers rejoicing together. It really is a metephore for the church as a whole. The apostle Paul encourages us all in Ephesians 5 to “speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.” That is why it is good to get up in front of the congregation and share a song that admonishes, teaches, or just leads the listener to worship. Choirs are all throughout scripture from the teams of musician priests in the Old Testament (1 Chronicles 25) to the heavenly choirs in Revelation (19:1-10).
When I took this job, New City Fellowship had no choir. Recently, we have put together a choir to perform some songs for a special event. It has been fun to see a group of ordinary church goers gel into a performance ready choir. I am mentally preparing myself for the inevitable question: ‘Hey, why don’t we have a regular choir here?’ I have been thinking through the pros and cons of choirs.
- Choirs are fun. They make beautiful music that is a pleasure to listen to and to perform.
- Choirs are educational and enriching. You learn a lot about singing in a choir. Choirs in many churches becomes the fertile ground where gifts are nurished.
- Choirs are participatory. Instead of having a spectator service driven by a small group of worship rock stars, a choir helps to provide opportunities for everybody to jump in and get involved. They are also a great way for people to get involved who may not be ready to get up there with a mic, but who would do well in a section.
- Choirs take time. A choir MUST practice a lot if it will perform on a regular basis. We have a culture today that is so busy that nailing down people to be at a weekly rehearsal is pretty difficult. Also, at my church, the members love to volunteer and get involved in things, and as a result, most are too involved in other things to commit to being at a choir rehearsal.
- Choirs need leadership. As a music director, my time is taken up with the everyday upkeep of the congregational music and worship band. In order to have an effective choir, we would need to have either a paid or volunteer Choir director and probably accompanist, too.
- Choirs need commitement. I am sorry to say that people in todays culture cannot commit to anything! Ok, there I said it. People think that they want to sing in the choir, but they don’t realize until they are in it that it means they must be there every week, for every rehearsal until the cows come home.
So, considering all of these things, I don’t think my church is really ready for a choir. For now, I will only pursue doing small, one-time vocal ensembles for special events.