Choirs in Modern Worship

The trend is to get rid of the choir. They're of no use, no significance, and certainly not relevant to what we need in modern worship right? This might be the assumption of many congregants and even worship leaders in our churches today. This is not the case though. The common assumption would be that choirs are not relevant not only in our churches but also in contemporary society. Surprisingly though choirs are incredibly relevant. In fact, many secular (even pop) musicians spent the beginnings of their musical journey under the tutelage of a choral director. Church music is sadly often frowned upon by many, at times because of bigotry but also at times because of the lack of quality. There could certainly be times to not have a choir, but many churches are far too easily jumping at the trend and even using the fact that they have dismissed their choir as a bragging point. We must be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater though. To go against the grain, I would like to suggest two things: 1) reasons to keep choirs in the church and 2) some helpful adaptations for choir to be used in modern worship.

Reasons to Keep Choirs in the Church

With so much backlash against choirs in the modern context of corporate worship, it might seem difficult to find reasons to keep choirs in the church. It isn't though. When we consider the good and the benefit that comes from choral participation in worship, we do not have to search very hard for reasons to keep choirs in the church. Here are three of the most obvious reasons.

1. Church Choirs Are Often the Medium of Musical Training

We may not consider it, but church choirs are often the way in which people receive the majority or at least the beginnings of their musical training. For hundreds of years, the church served as a training ground for quality musicians. This seems to no longer be the case. However, it is still a formational place where worshipers and worship leaders can be trained. If the goal is worship, shouldn't we train our people how to be excellent in their craft as worshipers and worship leaders? Let's not focus only on the spiritual but also on the practical. People are able to receive musical and artistic instruction through church choirs in ways that they would otherwise not be able to. Basic musical principles are then applied in the context of corporate worship where God's people seek to give him the best possible.

2. Church Choirs are a Reflection of the Church as the Body of Christ

Church choirs are an excellent reflection of the body of Christ. It is many individuals serving their part and using their unique gifts and abilities to glorify God; it is many people working together for one common purpose; and it is God's people encouraging one another through music. This is what the church should be. A choir then is a small reflection of what the church is and should be.

3. Church Choirs Are Able to Utilize More People More Effectively at One Time

It is not wrong to not have a choir, but a choir gives more people the opportunity to be used at one time. It is a team effort (as is the body of Christ), and it is an opportunity for more of God's people to be involved in rather than simply observing. The avenue of band and worship team only does not give as many people the opportunity to be used in leading worship. There are more opportunities in church choirs.
Adaptations to Choirs in Modern Worship

While choirs in the church are relevant, there are certainly adaptations that must be made for effective worship leading. There are shifts in mindset and practice that we should take note of and seek to carry out in our churches and ministries.

1. Focus on Leading Worship, Not Performance

Gone are the days when church choir was a medium of performance. We are only performing for one, and it is given to him as a joint effort (leaders and congregants). Our mindset has to shift from that of a performance choir to that of a worship choir. Choir members should view themselves are part of a unit that is a worship leading unit. The goal is God's people worshiping him rightly, and our every action must serve this purpose. In this manner, the mindset has to shift.

2. Serve as a Catalyst to Engage People in Worship

Church choirs must be catalysts to engage God's people in worship. Worship is participatory. That is why worship leaders are also worshipers themselves. God's people worship as a whole; there are a few that lead in that action though. This is the choir's responsibility. It is amazing that people often sing louder and with more confidence when a choir is leading them. The choir reinforces what is already happening. Church choirs should seek to engage God's people and participate in the sacred action of worship.

3. Be Flexible

Church choirs must act with a certain flexibility in worship. Rigidity does not contribute to the function of a choir in modern worship. This means that singers should readily be prepared to improvise, change parts, and simply be prepared to do anything that will enhance the worship of God's people. Flexibility is one of the key elements to using a choir in modern worship. In all of our rehearsals and preparations (which are very good and necessary), we must always allow the Holy Spirit to guide us.

Conclusion

Church choirs are not dead, and they are certainly not irrelevant. While worship leaders must make adjustments, let us seek ways to improve an already good thing, not throw it out merely because we do not like it or it is difficult to employ. Remembering these things and changing the direction of church choirs will aid in carrying out right worship. Before you throw out the choir, consider how it might be able to help in your worship context.











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