I’m not sure I’ve ever known a choir director who would say, “My choir is just too large. I don’t know what if we can handle any more people.” Most of us are usually racking our brains trying to see how we can get more people to join and are finding that it’s getting extremely difficult to get folks involved.
Families have activities all through the week and often can’t seem to find a way to join what they view as “just another activity,” yet we know that choir is much more than an activity. It’s a way for us to use our gifts to glorify God and spread the Gospel through music. It’s a great time of fellowship and worship and can even be one of the most effective small groups in the church.
Here are some effective, edifying ways to recruit folks into your choir, along with a few important factors to consider while doing so.
This tends to be the most effective method for recruiting new choir members. Find time to talk to people and simply invite them to choir. This can be done at church in the hallway or through a phone call. You may even wish to have small “You’re Invited” cards that you send to prospective choir members complete with a short personal note and Scripture. Current choir members are also great ambassadors for choir. Encourage them to invite others on a regular basis. Of course, include reminders and invitations in your church newsletter and website. Possibly include fun pictures from choir get-togethers.
Be sure to invite those with “average” voices
You may for good reason be drawn to those with great voices. Invite them to choir, but remember that God loves to use “average” people for great things. When you get a bunch of “average” voices, train them to sing together properly, you end up with a synergy and a sound that goes beyond the talent of each individual voice. You also help teach those with a ton of vocal talent that we are all in this together. The best choirs (and churches) are the ones in which egos are put aside for the sake of spreading the Gospel.
Resist the urge to simply fill the choir loft
I know of a director who recruited people just to show up on Sundays, put on choir robes, and stand there only so the choir would look bigger. Unfortunately, some of those who were recruited never actually opened their mouths as the choir was singing, and it ended up distracting the congregation more than helping.
Also be aware that some folks may be anxious about whether you are going to put them through a difficult audition process. Whether or not to hold auditions is something each director must work through. If you hold auditions, you most likely already have a system in place that works for your situation. If you do not hold official auditions, you may still choose to sit a new choir member within hearing range of an established member so you can get a feel for how the new person sings. Another option is to ask them to show up a few minutes early so you can hear their range and place them in the right vocal section.
Have effective choir rehearsals
The reason to have effective choir rehearsals is pretty obvious. What may not be quite as obvious, though, is that if your choir members feel that rehearsals are worthwhile, they are much more likely to invite others to join. As a result, not only will you have more enjoyable and productive rehearsals, but you’ll also have a growing number of people taking part.
Realize that your choir could actually be the largest small group in your church. Many folks will want to join choir to find a place to belong. Remember that each new member represents a life. Each of them has joys and hurts. Teach the choir to embrace them as family. Share devotional thoughts during choir to encourage them. Connect with each person individually as much as possible. As your choir grows, mentor others within the choir to help with that process. Use choir fellowships and retreats to help members of your choir grow both musically and spiritually.
Finally, treat members of your choir as called. If folks view themselves as volunteers, they will treat choir as something that they do when it’s convenient. If you can help folks understand that choir is a ministry to which people are called, they begin to realize that choir is not just a group of people who show up to sing —it’s a group of people called by God to minister in His name. What a privilege it is to gather people together for that purpose!