Transitioning – Part 8 – Cast vision for the new role of the choir
As East City Church transitions its worship service to a unified style of worship (see links below to catch up on the story), they will need to help their choir to catch a vision for becoming a worship-leading choir. ECC already has a great choir, but in the style of worship that is currently in place, the choir is often a centerpiece, singing many selections and often leading to a spectator role of the congregation.
In renewing worship through a worship transition, the choir needs to be re-visioned to a worship-leading choir whose chief purpose is to worship and help set an environment to lead the congregation in worship.
In a past post, Producing Pew Potatoes: Creating a Culture of Spectators, I wrote about the problem of the choir singing several selections in a worship service:
Today, I want to address the first of several things that churches can do to produce spectators for worship: some churches get so involved in producing “special music” segments that they seem to have little time left for the congregation to sing. Now I agree that a stirring solo, choir special, or instrumental arrangement can be worshipful for all and is a great sacrifice of praise for those presenting the music, and many times, the congregation can worship vicariously through the song. But what I see time after time is a emphasis on non-congregational music while pushing out time and opportunities for the congregation to be involved. And when it comes to congregational singing, we should spend as much time making sure that the arrangements we use to lead our congregation are as special and prepared as anything we do for “special” music. Think of the congregation as your most important musical group.
Much time in preparation should be spent every week in working on congregational music so that the choir can sing the music “full of spirit,” as people lost in worship. This attitude can be contagious among the congregation.
Here are some areas of consideration for ECC’s choir in preparing for worship transition:
Consider a choir retreat that will focus on the new role and provide immersion into new congregational worship songs.
Explore more contemporary sounds such as urban gospel.
Explore singing from memory much of the time.
Spend time at each rehearsal casting vision and rehearsing congregational worship songs.
Kenny Lamm, senior consultant for worship and music for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, is a frequent worship conference leader with a strong focus on equipping leaders in North Carolina (USA) and Southeast Asia. His blog, Renewing Worship, features posts that explore ways to renew–impart new life and vigor to–the worship in the local church.