Building a great choir
When it comes to the volunteer church choir, I’ve come to the conclusion that a “great choir” is a choir that worships God passionately with excellence. It’s a choir that understands its role as a collective worship leader, leading the way to the very throne room of God. And I’m always interested in what will make the choir (or any music ministry team) be a place or ministry that people want to be a part of; where they are humbled and honored to be involved. The truth is, I want that for myself.
I’ve read this great article about how to build a great choir by Mike Harland here. You should give it a read!
He talks about a few important ingredients, and I’ve added some of my own thoughts below:
- Spiritual nourishment – You should make a regular devotional or preaching time be a part of all of your rehearsals. Build it in. But not only that, you can include biblical counsel, instruction, and encouragement throughout your rehearsals as you prepare your music. Get creative. Think deeply about the texts you are preparing. It doesn’t have to be an 18 point outline. A simple provoking thought or word of encouragement will often do the trick. Prayer is another aspect of this.
- Musical accomplishment – You’ve got to strive for excellence in all you do musically. If this isn’t your strength, depend on the knowledge and insight of others who might have a better ear or more training. Those people should not be intimidating; rather, they should be your go-to people for counsel and advice. Achieving excellence will make it an experience they will want to come back for.
- Respect for everyone’s time – This is important. I always strive to do better at this, but I do my best to start on time, and end on time (or before). It’s just a basic respect principle.
- Personal interactions – I have to continually remind myself: It’s more about people than music. (Without people, we wouldn’t have music.) While I have a long ways to go in this area, I am learning that relationships are so vital to the choir ministry. A choir that feels more like a family (and less like a group of individuals) is going to worship more freely on Sunday. I’m more apt to worship freely with someone who I’ve prayed with and been able to have fellowship with, than someone who just shows up for rehearsals and Sundays, but exhibits very little interest in me. That’s true for all of us.
- Consistency – All of this must be consistently done throughout our music ministry life span. People will come to respect and appreciate your consistency.
As choir directors and music ministry leaders, paying attention to these ingredients is essential to building a great choir. I hope you’ll give some thought to this as you lead your choir this year.
James Koerts serves as the worship pastor of Mikado Baptist Church in Macon, Georgia. In addition to his full time responsibilities at the church, James is also a published composer and arranger.