But is it true?
Mark Twain is credited with a quote that goes something like this, “The news of my death has been greatly exaggerated.” This quote is disputed both in content and source. I’d like to dispute that choirs are dead and dying too with a few questions:
What does the term “choir” mean anyway?
If you go to Anywhere Baptist Church in Somewhere, USA, you’ll find 11 people in the loft. If you go to New Church Start in Downtown, Metropolis, you’ll find 11 people on the stage. The first one is a “choir” and the second one is a “worship team.” But both have 11 people leading their congregation in worship.
When asked, the first church will say, “We have a choir.” and the second one will say, “We don’t have a choir.” But, they both have people that lead worship with their singing. Are “choirs” really dead?
Where did choirs come from?
People that study these things typically agree on this – choirs are distinctively Christian in their heritage. Churches were the organizations that brought choirs to communities. I suspect that’s because the Bible is where we find them first in history. Choirs were not someone’s cool idea that caught on and someday will fade away – they were God’s idea. Are we sure they should die?
Why do some leaders resist having choirs in churches?
It’s true – in many settings, sadly, the role of choirs morphed into more of a fine arts organization instead of a disciple making enterprise. Musicians can be clique-ish and exclusive. They can dominate a church calendar and be expensive to maintain. Choir leaders can be selfish and demand to be treated differently than the rest of the staff while they do their thing that “no one understands.”
Whenever I talk to a leader that says, “We don’t do choirs because they are a distraction.”, I always ask, “Have you ever seen one led by a disciple maker?” Because when the choir is an organization led by someone focused on developing disciples and worship leaders, you will find an entirely different attitude. In those settings, the choir contains the biggest givers, the most dedicated servants, people that are praying and sharing – they become a strong small group and great discipleship organization in the church. Far from being a distraction, they become a great outreach arm… a voice for the Gospel.
Are you sure that choirs would be a “distraction”?
Focus on finding and developing the right kind of leaders for your choirs – leaders that are focused on the mission of disciple making through the opportunities of choir ministry.
I haven’t met a pastor yet that wouldn’t rather have 50 people doing something on mission instead of 10.
That’s why at LifeWay Worship, we are “PROUD SUPPORTERS OF CHOIRS EVERYWHERE”.
Because – as far as we’re concerned, the news of the death of choirs is greatly exaggerated.
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.