This article was originally published in Worship Leader magazine (May 2007). For more great articles like this one, subscribe today.
I have a friend who is what they call a leadership guru. My friend’s name is Bobb Biehl, and he’s the kind of guy who is constantly saying things you feel like writing down.
On one occasion, he said: “A leader in any organization is the person who knows how to formulate, and then answer, key questions.” I’ve taken that to heart over the years, and whenever I’m faced with a dilemma, I immediately go into key-question-figuring-out mode.
Here’s one for you: Should the evangelical Church, in this millennium, have a choir?
Many forward-looking churches, in an attempt to remain on the contemporary edge musically, have come down (temporarily, I believe) on the side of the fence that answers that question, “No.”
Here is a brief look at some relevant sub-questions, and I hope cogent answers, to that big question.
- Q: Whose Idea Is the choir?
A: .The choir is God’s idea. A great God needs to be praised in great ways, which sometimes means loudly and with lots of praisers. Read 2 Chronicles 5:1-14 and 2 Chronicles 15:1-24 for just two of the ways God has indicated that the choir (and the instrumental musicians) should be used in worship. What we see is that the choir is God’s worship leader, and also His lead warrior. The bottom line is, if the choir is God’s idea, maybe we’d better come to a screeching halt in our plan to dismantle choirs everywhere.
- Q: If the choir is God’s idea, why hasn’t it been a more effective worship leader?
A: .We’ve been doing it wrong. Not really, really wrong, but wrong in an important way. By seeing ourselves as “singers for Jesus” instead of “worship leaders.” By acting as though the choir anthem is really only a special musical moment in a worship service, and kind of “phoning in” on the congregational portion. By not seeking to understand how the choir can lead worship more effectively. And, perhaps most importantly, by failing to see our choir involvement as the calling of God that it is, rather than just as a leisure-time pursuit on the part of its members. In fact, there are about 20 small things that we’ve been doing one way, which, if done in a slightly different way, would absolutely transform our worship leading effectiveness. (Go to the Web site www.worshipleadingchoir.com for more info on this.)
- Q: Doesn’t being a worship-leading choir just mean that the choir sings new music?
A: A worship-leading choir can sing any style of music—whatever fits the congregation in which the choir serves. Often, of course, that musical style is contemporary Christian, but it also might be: Baroque, Country, Broadway, or African Folk Dance music. God, I would think, might get bored with the same style of music over and over. After all, He invented all of it.
My bottom line is because the choir is God’s idea and because it involves many people, it is potentially the most powerful worship leader in almost any church. My personal experience bears this out every time.
Don’t give it up. In fact, just do it. But do it right. God will be glorified, and your worship can’t help but be greatly enhanced.
Dave Williamson is a multiple Dove Award-winning arranger living in Nashville. He has dedicated his life to encouraging choirs to define and walk in their God-given role as worship leaders.