I live in Tennessee, a place called “The Volunteer State.” I’d like to suggest that we could call our choirs the same thing – because volunteers are the very life-blood of what we do in choir ministry – but, the orange choir robes would be too much.
So, what is the secret to attracting and keeping volunteers in your choir ministry? Here are a few key ingredients I’ve picked up along the way.
- Create a welcoming atmosphere.
Nothing says, “We want you!” better than a well-planned experience for first time and repeat guests of choir. Using nametags for everyone helps them not stand out. Select at least one person in each section to be on the lookout for guests for the purpose of meeting and assisting those guests navigate through the process of getting the music and selecting a seat. And, as Director, you should put at the top of your “To do” list meeting and greeting these guests. Follow up their visit with a phone call or email to express your joy at their visit.
But, there’s more to do with the rest of your choir – find ways to “welcome” even your regulars to choir. Music playing as people arrive, lots of handshakes and hugs, and plenty of expressions of gratitude and appreciation each time the choirs gathers, will go a long way in creating an atmosphere that is inviting to the people in choir.
- Connect the dots of impact.
My Worship Pastor at Brentwood Baptist is the best at this – Almost every week, Sundays and Wednesdays, Dennis Worley will read an email or tell a story of some way the ministry of the choir had an impact on an individual in the church or watching online. The stories are poignant and powerful. And, when he shares them, the people in our choir are reminded of how important this ministry is and that the time they are investing in choir is making a big difference in the lives of people.
- Establish a consistent cadence.
One of the ways a Director can inadvertently de-motivate their choir is to make the choir an erratic ministry – one Sunday on, two Sundays off, etc… If your people wake up on Sunday morning and asks ”Is the choir leading today?” you may be making this mistake. Certainly, a director may choose to take a break (like in the summer) but that only works if it is for a short season and well-planned for ahead of time.
Establishing a pattern that people can understand and committed to will go a long way to building a motivated choir.
- Feed the flock.
If you will approach your choir with the desire and intention of feeding them as individuals both spiritually and musically – rather than trying to get as much out of them as you can – you will build a highly motivated and spiritually nourished team of singers.
Always pursue the answer to these questions: “What are my people getting from their choir experience?” and “How is this organization helping them develop as disciples?”
If you think about it, a shepherd never has to beg his flock to come and be fed. And if you feed the people you lead, they will always come back to the table.
Those are a few of my ideas. What are you best ways to motivate your choir?
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.