The decline of the church choir has removed one of the most visible models of unity on display in our local churches. Week in and out, vibrant church choirs model unity as the body of Christ in worship leadership.
Chorus America, a nationally known advocacy, research and leadership development organization that supports the choral arts, has written much on the benefits of singing. Most recently, an article came out in June 2019 that lauds the benefits of singing for a lifetime. After first reading this article and the major findings of the story, I was encouraged by the increase in choral participation in America.
At the same time I was reading this article, I was discussing with friends across the nation about the continued decline of choirs in churches all over the nation. I don’t want to list the myriad of reasons why choirs are declining in our churches because they are vast and many. However, if the current Chorus America research that suggests that choral singing in America is not declining, maybe our churches shouldn’t assume that no one wants to sing in a choir.While the article mentions the benefits of singing to increase quality of life, physical health, greater activity in churches and community, and stronger relationships, I want to focus on a few items that stick out to me as it pertains to why church choirs should be an integral part of the intergenerational church:Further, with many singers actively singing in a choir, our churches shouldn’t assume that no one wants to listen to a choir either. What I found interesting is that the authors indicated in the last 10 years, attendance has declined in church worship as well as social clubs, while choral participation has done just the opposite.
First, 43 million American adults and 11 million children are singing in choirs today.That’s a total of 54 million Americans. Please remind me why naysayers say no one without white hair wants to hear or participate in a choir? In fact, this research suggests that having choirs will increase participation in any organization, whether community, school or church. The researchers also find an increase in participation in choral singing to 17% from 14% since 2008.
Second, the key to lifelong singing is starting when children are young. The findings show that both schools and faith communities that have graded choir programs produce the greatest number of students who will become lifelong singers. I’m convinced that churches that cease to invest in fully graded choirs from preschool through students will never have a strong adult program.
Third, having a choir might actually increase your attendance in your faith community. In every church I’ve been a part of, the music ministry participants are among the more faithful and more committed to corporate worship. I believe people are more committed when they have a place and reason to serve.