To Choir or Not to Choir?

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.

some Pros:

  1. Choirs are fun. They make beautiful music that is a pleasure to listen to and to perform.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

some Cons:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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  1. #1 by Anonymous on January 28, 2005 - 1:55 pm

    Kirkus, you have like a gazillion links and some of them don’t make sense to me! Like the Waffle House link. I couldn’t get the cow video up cuz my speed is too slow, but a Ground Hogs link? You’re hilarious! Keep up the great work my man!kate

  2. #2 by Kirk Ward on January 28, 2005 - 4:27 pm

    the waffle house link: i put it on the phrase, “people can’t committ to anything” to say that people ‘waffle’ on what they want to do with their lives.the ground hog link: that was a joke because i put it on the phrase special events as if we would plan a choir performance for groundhogs day. somehow it is ten times less funny when i explain it like that. maybe i should have gone with arbor day?kw

  3. #3 by JDub on January 28, 2005 - 7:25 pm

    Kirk, I am going to tell all my choir members to read your blog entry about choirs! Of course the other issue is that we directors don’t want to make enemies by laying guilt trips on people about being consistent, now that commitment is not a part of the fabric of society. And I interpreted your waffle house entry as random, which perfectly illustrates people’s inability to commit. We guffawed at the cow video! Joel probably has high speed internet at work, Kate. Special events choirs are perfectly legit, and more common than you might think. People remember choirs from school and childhood, and now that they are in contemporary churches and living in the fast lane, they like to reminisce.

  4. #4 by Anonymous on January 29, 2005 - 3:09 pm

    Hey Kirk! This is Emily. I love the blog world b/c you can get connected to people you haven’t heard from in a while. I hope you are well. I am glad I have a reference point for you and Sarah now. So anyways I hope that this greets you doing well with everything!

  5. #5 by Sarah on February 2, 2005 - 1:20 pm

    you’re hysterical hubs. i must confess that i usually don’t check out the links however i now will forever more.

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