#NWLC11 Part 11 – The Worship Choir: Is the Day of the Choir Over, or Has It Changed?

On the last day of the National Worship Leader Conference a couple of weeks ago, I attend Ray Jones’ workshop on the worship choir. I am convinced that this workshop was my reason for going to this conference, which I told Ray after the session. I will detail why I think this was the case after Wednesday, which is the first choir rehearsal at church for the Fall. In the meantime, here are my notes from the session…

  • Is the choir relevant? YES.
  • Everything begins with the Bible.
  • Of the 50 largest churches in the US, 36 use worship choirs on a regular basis, and many more use them for special events.
  • 54 of the Psalms were directed to the Choir Director.
  • The choir is Biblically based.

and all the Levitical singers, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun, their sons and kinsmen, arrayed in fine linen, with cymbals, harps, and lyres, stood east of the altar with 120 priests who were trumpeters; and it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the LORD), and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the LORD,

“For he is good,

for his steadfast love endures forever,”

the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God.

-2 Chronicles 5:12-14 ESV

Then I brought the leaders of Judah up onto the wall and appointed two great choirs that gave thanks. One went to the south on the wall to the Dung Gate. And after them went Hoshaiah and half of the leaders of Judah, and Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, and Jeremiah, and certain of the priests’ sons with trumpets: Zechariah the son of Jonathan, son of Shemaiah, son of Mattaniah, son of Micaiah, son of Zaccur, son of Asaph; and his relatives, Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah, and Hanani, with the musical instruments of David the man of God. And Ezra the scribe went before them. At the Fountain Gate they went up straight before them by the stairs of the city of David, at the ascent of the wall, above the house of David, to the Water Gate on the east.

The other choir of those who gave thanks went to the north, and I followed them with half of the people, on the wall, above the Tower of the Ovens, to the Broad Wall, and above the Gate of Ephraim, and by the Gate of Yeshanah, and by the Fish Gate and the Tower of Hananel and the Tower of the Hundred, to the Sheep Gate; and they came to a halt at the Gate of the Guard. So both choirs of those who gave thanks stood in the house of God, and I and half of the officials with me; and the priests Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah, with trumpets; and Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malchijah, Elam, and Ezer. And the singers sang with Jezrahiah as their leader. And they offered great sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced. And the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away.

-Nehemiah 12:31-43 ESV

  • Choirs engage a level of warfare in the church that confuses the enemy.
  • The most special music is the kind that engages the congregation.
  • Should the choir be FEATURED? Or LEAD? As PROMPTERS of worship?
  • Why should we start a choir (note: my church HAS one)?
    1. It trains more people in leadership.
    2. You identify talent.
    3. You build a larger sense of community in your fellowship by modeling inclusion.
  • If you have to tell people you’re in charge… you’re not.
  • You don’t put a microphone in front of someone’s face just because they have talent.
  • Starting leaders in the choir “washes them in the DNA of the music ministry.”
  • To be a part of the choir… 1) love Jesus, and 2) show up to rehearsal.
  • To have a mic in your hand… AUDITION and INTERVIEW, gauging relationship with Christ and a general brokenness.
  • How to Start and Grow Your Group
    1. Be inclusive.
    2. Keep your praise singers on mic.
    3. MISSED THIS POINT – IF YOU WERE THERE AND HAVE IT, SHOOT IT TO ME
    4. Use a skilled person to teach vocal parts (may or may not be the director).
    5. Encourage them to be worship leaders, not just singers.
  • 10 minute rule: if the choir doesn’t get the song in 10 minutes, don’t do it (not a universal rule).
  • Scale back number of parts – seek harmony, not confusion.
  • Sometimes, the big dog has to bark (you had to be there).
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