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Building Choir Commitment

Guidelines to faithfulness

PHILIP W. CAMBERS

Up at the mountains, down at the beach, at family reunions, or at Grandmother’s house–the list goes on and on! Choir members can come up with creative excuses for missing rehearsals and performances.

Some excuses are valid while others are simply convenient ways for uncommitted choir members to drift in and out of the choir loft as they please. Finding a way to increase the number of committed members in your choir is not only a necessity but also can be a real challenge.

Commitment to the choir ministry is a must. It is difficult for the choir director to plan music for a service if he doesn’t know who is going to be there. The congregation also notices who is there regularly and who is not!

As the choir is one of the most visible ministries of the church, its members must give their best. Granted, there are times when they must be absent due to work or illness, but the challenge is to make them faithful the rest of the time.

Personal contact between the director and members helps build a more committed choir. One way to help in this area is to elect section leaders (soprano, alto, tenor, bass). The leaders’ responsibility is to take attendance and add a personal touch by making a phone call or sending a card to those who miss a rehearsal. This personal involvement builds friendships within the section and develops a prayer support system for those who may be experiencing trials.

In a small choir one or two people may effectively handle this responsibility, whereas in a larger choir more are needed. The choir director should follow up with a phone call, a note in the mail, or a personal visit.

A social chairman, appointed or elected, can provide another outreach for bonding people together in the choir. Friendships between new members and those who have sung in the choir for years may be encouraged by planning several relaxed, informal functions throughout the year for fun and fellowship. The social chairman’s responsibility includes lining up a lodge or park for the event, choosing a theme, and involving other choir members in bringing food and planning activities.

Another way to add a personal touch to the music ministry is to send birthday and anniversary cards to choir members on their special days. It is surprising how many times people have told me the card from the music department was the only one they received.

Our choir also established a floral fund to purchase flowers for members who are hospitalized or who experience a death in the family. We raise the money for this choir ministry by taking an offering weekly during choir rehearsal and applying it to a designated choir floral fund. Some have felt that when a member has a new baby, a baby outfit is more appreciated than flowers. This is also paid for from the floral fund, and the gesture has been well-received by our new mothers.

Our choir also provides an evening meal for members when there is a death in the family and a week of evening meals when someone has been hospitalized. This helps choir members know others care about them and are willing to help in times of need. The flowers and meals have served to make our choir more like a family rather than isolated individuals.

Talking to the group about commitment and adding personal touches are important, but sometimes even more is needed. Choirs tend to be made up of one predominant age group. Our current choir has many young married couples with small children. Whenever the choir rehearses, the church provides a nursery for children 5 years of age and under. This allows both Mom and Dad the opportunity to sing in the choir without the hassle of finding a babysitter week after week.

Three years ago I started perfect attendance awards based on attendance at rehearsals and performances for each month of the year. At the end of the year, certificates were awarded.

At first most choir members treated the program as a joke, but an interesting thing happened. Faithfulness to the choir became the norm instead of the exception. Several members made it their personal commitment to see how many perfect months they could attain throughout the year.

At the end of the first year, one person had 5 months of perfect attendance, one had 4 months, another 3 months, and many had 1 or 2 months. At the end of the second year the top three positions doubled and more names were added to the 1- or 2-month perfect attendance lists.

Several choir members, however, were unable to achieve a perfect attendance certificate due to sick children or work schedules, but were otherwise faithful to the choir. Therefore, last year the "100 Club" was introduced. A choir member must attend two times (rehearsals, performances, and Sunday services) during the year. This sparked new interest in those who kept missing the monthly perfect attendance records by one or two rehearsals or services each month.

Matthew 25:14—30 gives the Parable of the Talents. To those who were faithful the Lord said, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."

Faithfulness is an important part of choir ministry. As director of an adult, youth, or children’s choir, handbells, or orchestra, remember to be faithful to the Lord and encourage your members to be faithful also!