Quite often I am asked the question, “Are choirs going away?” It’s true, we live in a time when choirs are not always present in worship for a variety of reasons – some very practical, others ideological.
But, I don’t worry about the future of choirs. They offer too much value to ever completely go away. And, they were God’s idea.
Here’s why I believe choirs will always accompany the worship of God’s people:
- Choirs Emphasize the Whole Group Over the Parts.
You can’t have a choir with one person. You can’t even have a choir with a few people, relatively speaking. Choirs are made up of a group of people, all uniting with the single purpose of singing a particular message together. It requires that each person sacrifice personal interest and pursue the purpose of the whole.
Instead of highlighting a few people with musical talent for the rest of the church to observe and appreciate, the choir de-emphasizes the individual and invites the larger church to engage in worship.
- Choirs Demonstrate the Value of Each Person.
At the same time choir emphasizes the whole, it also gives value to the individual. Each voice adds a unique part of the sound – a sound that is incomplete when that voice is missing. Though choir produces something greater than any one singer, it also relies on each person doing their part.
Choir is the best place to feature the most talented singers as their gifts fit in the context of the larger group. It uses the individual’s gifts while incorporating them into the larger mission. Sounds like church to me.
- Choirs Illustrate the Diversity of Gifts in the Church.
The varying levels of ability in a volunteer church choir would surprise most non-choir members. In virtually every choir, there will be wide-range of skills and training. The leader has the responsibility of developing the sound of the choir, taking into account the different types of singers in the group.
I learned years ago to value the contribution of every choir member, not just the “super-singers.” Each person can make much more than a musical contribution to choir. They add their spirit, commitment, and dedication. I believe anyone can contribute to choir. Their very presence is an encouragement to the rest of the choir. As the leader, it is my responsibility to use their talents – no matter how great or small – in the very best way.
Mike Harland is the Director of LifeWay Worship. When he’s not directing 30+ employees, you’ll find him leading worship at various churches around the country, writing/arranging worship songs and/or, writing his next book. In his spare time, he loves playing basketball and spending time with his family. Mike can be found on Twitter @MikeHarlandLW and on facebook.com/Mike.Harland.37.