Most of the churches I’ve been a member of over 45+ years have had a choir. I realize that’s unusual now. I understand the various reasons for churches doing away with a choir, and I’m not arguing that every church should have a choir—but it might be the right move for your church. Here are some reasons why:
- The problem with some churches in the past was not that they had a choir; it was that they had a poor choir. Any approach to worship music not done with excellence is a problem, regardless of style. A bad praise team is just as problematic as a bad choir.
- A choir offers opportunities for members to use their gifts. If church leaders give significance to the choir and then recruit well, they may see members use gifts they didn’t even know they had. Even in churches that have a small worship space, it’s possible to figure out a way to have a choir.
- Churches need not choose between a choir and a praise team; they can have both that complement one another. In my opinion, having both groups leading the church only increases the members’ participation in the act of worship. That’s a good thing.
- Having a well-designed approach to a choir offers an opportunity to more deeply disciple those members. If any group ought to be continually growing in Christ, it is those who help lead us in worship—and a choir leader should be a disciple maker. Being in a choir should never be about performance; it should be about spiritual growth and humble service.
- A choir might help your church fill a unique niche in your community. Every church is different, and every church approaches worship somewhat differently. It might be that your community needs a church with a choir to reach folks who think more traditionally.
- It helps produce good congregational singing. A praise team can achieve this goal, too, but it’s easier to worship through song when dozens of people are leading the way.
- A good choir sings and illustrates joy. It’s not just the singing that makes a difference. It’s also the smiling. It’s the worshiping through raising hands. It’s the singer who closes his eyes and takes us to God through his own personal worship. It’s the large group praising God together.
- It offers multi-generational fellowship. I’ve been to churches where the choir is the only opportunity for several generations to serve together. There’s something God- honoring about an older saint and a teen believer singing next to one another.
- It helps avoid the “single star” approach to worship leadership. That’s just naturally the case: get enough people in the picture, and no single leader becomes the star.
Tell us what you think. Do you agree? Disagree?
Agree, particularly with point #2. Years ago, when churches began “praise and worship,” some churches immediately dissolved the choir. My concern was that those choir members no longer had an avenue for expression of their ministry gifts.
Concerning point #3, some churches used the choir early in the worship service then they left the loft. The praise team then came on to “lead worship.”
BTW, I was a denominational “serpent,” (grin) I saw a lots of churches.
I appreciate this article very much. As a member of Trinity Baptist in Raleigh NC we are blessed to have multiple worship leading choirs and ensembles as well as soloist, duets, quartets etc. Worship is lead by any and all of those groups. Our minister of music has quite a job. He constantly reminds us that worship is “vertical’, upwards to God and that the congregation and the musicians are worshipping an audience of “One”. Many of these groups are leading worship again thank goodness. I have one issue, not with the points you make but one of terminology. I have never liked the title “praise team”. It is probably just me but it gives me the idea that one group has the corner on the market for “praising” God through music. Almost as if they are the only ones doing the praising with the congregation just following along. And the choir is more of a hymn jukebox full of the oldie favorites. I know that is not true but something about the term just doesn’t feel right. I do recognize that there are different styles of worship and I have a great appreciation for all of them. You wisely use terms in your article about “star” soloists and “performance” versus worship. I guess “praise team” just gives me that star performer kind of vibe. I’m 64 so that may be the problem! LOL! Thank you for encouraging churches to either bring back their choirs or to consider starting new choirs. Music has always been for me, a straight wire to the soul. I tongue in cheek told our good hearted pastor that and reminded him that folks do dose off in the sermons but never during the music! He smiled and acknowledged the thought! God Bless!