As a pastor’s kid and a music minister, I’ve served in church worship ministry in a variety of capacities for the last 15 years. During that time, I’ve been involved in music ministries of all sizes, shapes and colors – as a worship leader, director of music, choir member and instrumentalist. Much of my full time, paid ministry leadership positions have been in small churches around 100-200 regular attenders – and usually with more traditional worship styles that include a choir. With that in mind, I’d like to share 5 tips for leading a small church choir.
- Manage your expectations. If you come from a background in academia, you might find yourself struggling with leading a small church choir. Many of your choir members may not be skilled vocalists with proper training – they may not even read music! Many small church choir members participate because they love to sing and they want to use that passion for giving God the glory. Once you embrace that and manage your expectations accordingly, you will find leading a small church choir much more enjoyable. And your choir members will appreciate your leadership as well.
- Keep it simple. In small churches, choir members are often leaders in other ministry areas as well. You should recognize that your choir members may not be able to devote all of their spare time to your ministry, and keep that in mind when planning the music ministry calendar.
- Don’t be afraid to challenge them. Although your choir members may not be trained vocalists (see tip #1), you should still push them to grow in their musical abilities. Don’t shy away from a challenging piece of music because you think your choir can’t handle it. Recognize that it’s going to be a challenge and be transparent with your choir about that, but inspire them to work toward it and give them the time to do so. You might be surprised what they can do, and they’ll be rewarded by the challenge.
- Train, train, train. This tip is related to tips #1 and #3. You are their leader, director, and pastor-teacher, and just as a teaching pastor pushes his congregation to grow spiritually and equips them to do so, you should be pushing your choir members to grow musically and equipping them as well. Allot some time in each rehearsal for training exercises. Offer vocal coaching. Teach them basic sight reading.
- Minister to your members. Whatever your job title at the church may be, as the choir director you are a worship leader who is stewarding others to lead in worship as well. That makes you a minister of the gospel of reconciliation between God and man through his son, Jesus. As a minister of the gospel, you should be ministering to your choir members – leading them to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ Jesus, deepening their understanding of the gospel, and loving them by bearing their burdens and their joys. You should be involved in your choir members’ lives, praying for them often, teaching them truth and doctrine through the Word and in song.
Are you involved in small church music ministry? Do you have any tips for leading a small church choir? Share them in the comments!