We must not discount the richness the choir brings to the church’s worship experience. I think many would be surprised by the long-lasting effect a choir program can have on their local church. If your church is anything like mine, the choir is a long-held tradition, and traditions enrich the life of the Church. Just because something is thought of as “traditional” doesn’t mean it’s not relevant for the body of Christ today.
Imagine that it’s Christmas Eve. You and your family have just finished watching your favorite Christmas movie, donned your festive PJs, hung your stockings, and shaken all of your presents one last time to venture a guess as to what’s inside. And now, before the children go to sleep, it’s time to read the Christmas story from the book of Luke. You read these familiar passages as your family listens intently. You begin to recall all those childlike images you’ve painted in your head since your Sunday School days. And now it’s the part of the story where the shepherds are keeping watch over their flocks by night…
“And lo, there appeared in the night sky a bearded man in his late twenties with a guitar and thick-rim glasses, and he said unto them, ‘Hey guys, this is a new one – sing along if you know it!’”
And suddenly with him was a man playing a djembe, a bass player, and his wife, who is a pretty good singer.
They sang songs of praise for about 20 minutes, and the younger shepherds really enjoyed it because of how fresh it sounded, and the older shepherds were very confused.”
As you already know, this is not what Luke actually wrote. The real events were much more special, much more otherworldly, and much more impactful on these lowly shepherds. These men were moved by the words of a heavenly choir – a message delivered with the power of a “multitude” of angelic voices, and they quickly went to Bethlehem to see the newborn king.
Now let me pause for a moment and assure you that I am not against the modern worship movement nor am I against praise teams, guitars, or guys with beards. I actually identify very closely with the man I described above (minus the thick rimmed glasses – God decided to give me great eyesight). Music is a beautiful medium of worship, and we should always be thankful for the people who put the time and energy into preparing and leading our times of corporate worship.
However, it is important to notice the cultural shift that is occurring in many churches today. The scenery is changing, and many traditions that have been held by Christians for hundreds of years have all but disappeared. Our sanctuaries look less like sacred spaces set aside for encounters with God and more like black box theaters or the set of American Idol. Metal scaffolding has replaced the arched columns, simple music stands have replaced lecterns, and the guitar-driven praise team has replaced the choir.