No, this post is not about worshiping your Youth Choir. Instead, this is what role worship has within a youth choir program.
For many years, my youth choir programs consisted of committed young men and women who generally liked to sing. They also generally believed in the messages of the songs that we were learning – which were mostly musical settings of Psalms – as well as hymn arrangements, spirituals, and generic-Christian gospel songs. Rehearsals opened or closed with prayer, and often I would touch on the text during rehearsal in order to have a teaching/devotional moment with the choir. The rest of the spiritual development I left in God’s hands.
On tours, we would have devotionals every evening, announcements, and usually recognize a senior or offer a goofy prize for something that had happened during the day. The students and chaperones were always so tired though that sometimes it felt like a final hurdle to overcome before bedtime. On retreats (when we had them), I offered more intentional worship opportunities – and was always a little disappointed when they felt sterile or foreign, which was just about every time. I think that because of this, I backed away from incorporating worship into the regular life of the youth choir.
At some level I must have decided that developing a spirit of worship within the choir was not worth the time. Besides, we had too much music to learn to spend time on it. Our tour days were too full to add worship to the itinerary. I didn’t always feel like worship myself.
I now kneel, humbled and ashamed, and ask for God’s forgiveness for the years of missed opportunities. Lord, have mercy upon me, a proud, busy, self-confident sinner.
I realize now that I was asking the choir to run before it could even crawl. I was offering a rich banquet of food to a choir of people who had only experienced graham crackers and apple juice.
We who lead choirs are leading worship, and that doesn’t mean music. The first priority of the choral ensemble is to be united in worship, lifting up hearts and voices to God. We must practice it. We must develop it and make it a regular part of our time together. I must embrace worship with the choir, knowing now that rather than a burden, it is such an opportunity to allow God to speak to our very soul.
There are always notes to learn. Time is always limited. It will never be perfect. But the time spent in worship with my choir is a treasure that surprises and leads me into the very presence of God.
When you experience the transformational power of worshiping with your choir, you will be amazed at the way God leads His people. Don’t let the years and opportunities go by, and don’t get your priorities backwards. Lead, develop, and model worship and pray with your choir – knowing that our Heavenly Father uses all of our gifts for far more than we can ever hope or even imagine.
(One resource I recommend is the Passion-Driven Youth Choir)