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Motivation–your secret to success

Dan Crace

One of the most difficult tasks a minister of music faces is keeping his choir motivated and excited about the ministry of music in the church. We all have suffered through the down cycles in the calendar year.

During the summer months, we face the problem of maintaining adequate enrollment and consistent attendance in our choirs. Choir members take vacations–sometimes, to our dismay, several members at the same time. Good weather prompts other excuses and absences. Careful planning and promotion, however, will save us some headaches and embarrassment.

September is traditionally choir enrollment month. Dig through your files, pull out some of those great promotion ideas, and use them during June. New people who have joined your church may welcome the invitation to become involved. Encourage people who don’t sing in the choir regularly to make a 2- or 3-month commitment to allow regular choir members some time off. They may find it rewarding and decide to stay involved come September. Consider college students returning home for summer or youth choir members who no longer have hectic school schedules. Take time to think this through, and you’ll discover many possibilities.

Here are some basic ideas for promoting choir membership:

1. Select a theme for your emphasis just as you would for September.

2. News releases in church publications are excellent for promoting interest in music ministry.

3. Give public announcements during Sunday school classes and other church department meetings. Make sure they are scheduled well in advance and are approved by your pastor.

4. Ask choir members and officers to do a phone blitz of the church membership to develop a prospect list.

5. Write a personal letter, make a phone call, or visit prospective choir members.

6. Develop cassette-taped announcements with background music giving all the pertinent information about the choir’s ministry. These may be distributed to home Bible study groups, Sunday school classes, or even played during regular services.

7. Prepare music survey cards that can be inserted in Sunday bulletins or distributed in Sunday school classes and home Bible study groups.

8. Have a committed choir member share a positive testimony in a service or other group meeting.

9. Conduct exciting rehearsals with enjoyable and challenging music. Strive for quality in music and ministry. Challenge the choir to do well and reward them when they do. One of the most important resources is word of mouth. You will have every chair filled with enthusiastic recruiters.

You can do some things on a personal level to encourage and motivate your choir, especially during slump times:

Challenge your choir members. People want to be a part of something exciting and worthwhile, to be challenged. From the senior pastor’s burden and goals for ministry for the congregation, set your goals and map out plans for the music ministry.

Communicate your excitement to the people to whom you minister. As they understand your directions and plans for the music ministry, they will follow your enthusiasm.

Service music and special concert programs should be selected and scheduled 6 months ahead. Get organized so you’ll be able to share excitement and enthusiasm during the summer months and throughout the year.

Express appreciation. A word of appreciation is one of your greatest tools of motivation. A thank-you will often be enough. A good admonition that should be a rule is: Don’t be stingy with words of appreciation when they are due.

It’s a mistake to assume people know they are needed. They need to hear that from you. A short, handwritten note or a personal phone call is an excellent way to communicate your appreciation.

Develop a sense of fulfillment. People are in the choir because they want to be a part of something exciting, something that touches and changes lives, and something that allows them to express their worship to God through the talent He has given them. This places tremendous responsibility on you as the choir director. Every choir member must be encouraged to stretch to his or her greatest potential. They may be soloists, good speakers, dramatists, organizers, or leaders. It’s your responsibility to steer choir members into areas where they will be most productive.

The choir must also have a sense of community. Give them opportunities to get to know one another through occasional social gatherings. Continually emphasize the importance of their ministry and its effect on the lives of the congregation. Pray and plan for Kingdom results. Nothing will convince them of their ministry’s importance more than people coming, to know Christ.

Love your choir. Expressing a genuine personal concern for each choir member cannot be emphasized too much. Remember, you are more than a director–you are a minister. Choir members are not keys on an instrument–they are real people who face real struggles and spiritual battles. Be transparent and become involved in their lives outside the church, and they will recognize your concern for them. Realizing that you genuinely care about what goes on in their lives away from the church building their joys and sorrows will draw them to you as a close friend, a partner in the ministry, and a defender of your vision and goals.