Growing Healthy, Worshipping, Intergenerational Choirs: Worship Leader Gathering 2018

A little over one month from now I’ll be leading a small gathering of worship leaders and/or choir directors in Atlanta, centered around the theme of growing healthy, worshipping, intergenerational choirs, and partnering those choirs with worship teams.

I’ve mentioned before that I didn’t grow up a “choir guy”, I never sang in choirs, I don’t conduct choirs, and for many years my only experience with church choirs was that they were dwindling.  I’ve seen choirs that are extinct, or dead, or hostile, or performance-minded, or divorced from contemporary music (with occasional awkward family visits at Christmas and Easter), or grasping at straws. The National Study of Congregations (Duke University) showed that in a 14 year period, between 1998 and 2012, the utilization of choirs in mainline protestant churches dropped 30%. And from what I’ve seen – in the last 5 years, that’s continued to drop.

Some churches strong, growing, stable choirs. But that’s the exception, not the norm. The trends are downward. Why do so many of us (even people like me, who aren’t your traditional “choir guys”) care that we continue the ministry of choirs?

Because a choir provides the Church a unique demonstration of the gospel – in that people from all tribes and tongues, generations, races, backgrounds, and skill levels – are redeemed and joined together to the praise of God’s glorious grace, they are not merely a decoration to be saved from the trash heap of musical yesteryear, but are a vehicle for TODAY’S CHURCH to display a microcosm of God’s ransomed people, joined together as the worshipping body of Christ.

God has planted in me – and my colleagues at my church, and many worship leaders and choir directors around the world – a vision for choirs that are:

  • Multi-ethnic
  • Cross-generational
  • Made up of “trained” singers and “amateur” singers
  • Growing
  • Able to sing difficult, classical pieces
  • Able to sing modern music with vigor
  • Meaningfully engaged in worship
  • Part of a unified team alongside the band
  • Such a welcoming family that people can’t resist joining
  • A worship leading engine, pointing the congregation to Jesus

One of the churches that demonstrates this kind of choir – and has been demonstrating it for several decades – is Mount Paran Church of God. It’s a different kind of church from the ones I’ve attended and served, it belongs a different denomination (which is VERY different from my stream of reformed Anglicanism in many many ways), and I had never even heard of it until about 10 years ago. But oh how wonderful – and how broad – is the Body of Christ. And this church had something to teach me about what choirs could do. This clip shows something most Anglican churches would never consider doing with a choir and band. And maybe that’s part of our problem. God may have more for us, and more for choirs, than we think.

If you have a passion for growing healthy, worshipping, intergenerational choirs, and partnering them with worship teams, then join us in Atlanta next month. All the details can be found at: https://worshipleadergathering.com.

Worship Leader Gathering: July 17 – 19, 2018

Last March, a group of 25 worship leaders and choir directors from all over the geographical and denominational map gathered in Atlanta for a wonderful time of community, worship, prayer, and teaching. We considered the challenges of leading/growing/building vibrant, worshipping choirs, and how to lead our worship ministries well. This gathering was one of the highlights of 2017 for me!

If you – or anyone you know – is interested in this topic, I would like to invite you back to Atlanta this July 17 – 19, for another gathering of worship leaders and choir directors, to encourage one another, pray for one another, and learn from one another.

We will once again have a welcome dinner on the evening of the 17th, and spend all of Wednesday (July 18th) at Mt. Paran Church of God, including observing their choir rehearsal that evening. On the morning of the 19th we’ll have one final session (and prayer commissioning), and will be done by 11:00am. We’re capping it at 50 attendees this year.

We’ll learn from each other, and from various speakers including the team at Mt. Paran, from Bradley Knight from the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, and from various others as well. We place a big emphasis on building relationships, praying for one another, and being real with each other.

Here’s a video with more info, featuring yours truly:

You can visit https://worshipleadergathering.com for all the info, and to register. I hope to see you there!

How We Communicate the Purpose and the Practicalities of a Choir Ministry On One Card

Over the last several years at my church, I’ve been enjoying leading worship alongside our great choir every Sunday. And as you’ll know from several previous posts on this blog, I’ve also been enjoying the challenges of helping steward and grow a choir in the face of daunting statistics of the decline of choirs across the mainline protestant world, especially not being a choir director myself. This past March I even hosted a day-long intensive on this subject in Atlanta.

For what it’s worth, I wanted to share the two-sided choir card that my colleague (and choir director) Andrew Cote and I have put together for our church that:

  • Explains the purpose and mission of our choir
  • Outlines the kind of rehearsal commitment for which we’re asking people to sign up
  • Summarizes some of the non-Sunday stuff in which the choir is involved

If you lead or help lead a choir at your church, perhaps this will be helpful, and/or perhaps you can share some of what/how you communicate these kinds of things.