How to Start a Choir at Your Church

There is something about a choir that enriches the worship service. I believe it brings pleasure to the LORD when He hears His children working together as a team to give praise to Him. But if you do not have a choir, how can you start one? It’s actually not as hard as you’d think. I’ve put together a list of six tips to help you start a choir successfully.

  1. Set goals. Habakkuk 2:2 says, “Write the vision and make it plain … that he may run who reads it.” Start by writing down the vision. What do you want to accomplish with a choir? When do you want to start? How are you going to achieve the goal? Once you know what you want to achieve, start sharing the vision with others.
  2. Start small and simple. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. How do you start a choir? One small step at a time. The choir begins with one person with a vision. Many people are overwhelmed with the thought of starting a choir because they believe a choir should have at least 20 singers. Actually, Merriam-Webster defines a choir as “an organized company of singers.” A company is two or more people, so if you recruit one more person to sing with you in an organized fashion, you have a choir! Now you’re ready to grow.
  3. Recruit, recruit, recruit. Who you recruit is up to you. You can open up the ensemble to everybody in your church or limit it to audition-only. A few ways to recruit are placing a write-up in the bulletin, posting on Facebook, or making a general announcement to the congregation. The most effective way I’ve found, though, is to reach out to people personally and invite them one at a time.
  4. Hold an event. The best way to kick-off your choir is to have an event like a Christmas cantata that people can anticipate on the calendar. People are more willing to commit to a short-term time period with an end date than they are to a continuous long-term obligation. Hopefully, once they see how terrific it is to sing in the choir, they will want to stay. Another idea is to have a one or two day retreat. My choir takes the summer off, so we start a new group every August. We start the new season with a two-day weekend retreat at our church.
  5. Make the choir rehearsals fun and effective. The best way to do this is to have a plan before you rehearse. Work on two to five songs max. Also, be sure you start and stop your rehearsals on time. People need to trust that you are not going to abuse their time. Pick music that your choir members will enjoy and arrangements that will challenge your singers without frustrating them.
  6. Celebrate success. If you do a Christmas cantata, plan to celebrate afterwards with a party. Be sure to offer encouraging words and thank everybody for their hard work. You can also reward faithful rehearsal attendance by giving a small gift card or award. If you do not have a big budget to have a party or give away gift cards, just acknowledge your choir in small ways. It’s amazing what a simple thank you or a plate of homemade cookies can do.

Finally, let me leave you with a parting verse to encourage you. Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Don’t worry about knowing everything there is to know about directing a choir. You will make plenty of mistakes. Learn from them and you will be fine. He is with you.

jeff redding head shotAbout the author: Jeff Redding is a Sales Rep at Brentwood Benson. He has been a worship pastor in both established churches and in new church starts for over twenty-five years. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Samford University and currently serves as the worship leader at Parkers Creek Baptist Church. He lives in Fairview, Tennessee with his wife and three children.

6 thoughts on “How to Start a Choir at Your Church

  1. You said so many great things. It took me many years in music ministry to loosen up to the point of making rehearsals fun. I wondered why people wouldn’t attend, but I had to look in the mirror. The people will only be excited if their leader is on fire.

  2. Another idea…if your church doesn’t have funds, check with other churches in the area for loans of music. You’d be surprised how many choirs would share their music.

  3. My name is Bret Olson I am the Music Director at Riverside Missionary Baptist Church Phoenix, Az. I Do not read music I mainly sing by ear I can follow some notes but for the most part I Do not read music. Can you recommend some self help dvd’s that teach someone how to read music. That way I can lead our choir in actual choir specials.

  4. Hi Jeff, I’ve been looking at the idea of having a two day retreat at my church. Would love to know how you structure your retreat, what’s your itinerary like?

    1. Hey Ben, thanks for your comment. We checked in with Jeff and here’s the itinerary he gave us. Hopefully this helps!

      From Jeff:

      Rehearsal listening CDs are distributed during the summer before the retreat

      We meet on Friday at 6:00 p.m.
      Eat a catered meal together (Someone else does the cooking and cleaning)
      Quick ice breaking game, devotion and prayer
      Quick break (provide snacks and plenty of water)
      Fun group game
      Voice lessons (we’ll learn as a group on using your singing voice part one)
      Full choir rehearsal
      End at about 10:00 p.m.

      Meet again on Saturday at 8:00 a.m. (Everybody should eat breakfast before arriving)
      Wake-up game, devotion and prayer
      Voice lessons (Using your singing voice part two)
      Full choir rehearsal
      Lunch (again catered by somebody)
      Team-building game
      Full choir rehearsal
      Voice lessons (Using your singing voice part three)
      Full choir rehearsal
      End at 4:30 p.m.

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