Four Functions of the Church Choir: Check Your Priorities, with Brian Hehn

Brian Hehn will fundamentally change the way you approach directing a church choir. In this episode we explore the four functions of a church choir and how most of us have gotten it backwards for years. It’s time to get excited about enhancing the congregation’s relationship with your choir through sometimes doing less. This one’s a game-changer!

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Highlight to Tweet: “If I had heard this 10 years ago, I wouldn’t have been fired from those three churches.” – Ryan Guth

Show Notes:

  • Church Choirs serve some very specific functions.  In order of priority:.
    1. The church choir leads and enlivens the congregation’s song
    2. The church choir sings music that the congregation cannot
    3. The church choir serves as a small-group within the church for faith formation
    4. The church choir sings beautiful and challenging music to praise God and edify the congregation
  • When adopting these functions in that priority order, there are some very real consequences to how we function in the church.
    1. We cannot understand our role as the “choir director” anymore. We are that, but we’re so much more.
    2. We cannot allow our choir members to understand their primary role as singing TO the congregation. They are singing WITH and FOR before they are singing TO.
    3. We cannot allow our choir to remain an isolated entity.
    4. We should not choose literature that the congregation can easily sing and just have the choir do it.
    5. We must lead, or find leaders from within the group, to spiritually nurture the ensemble.
    6. We must think liturgically.

Bio:

Brian is an inspiring song-leader equally comfortable leading an acapella singing of “It Is Well” as he is drumming and dancing to “Sizohamba Naye.” Experienced using a variety of genres and instrumentations, he has lead worship for Baptists, Roman Catholics, United Methodists, Presbyterians, and many more across the US and Canada. He received his Bachelor of Music Education from Wingate University, his Master of Sacred Music from Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, and is certified in children’s church music (K-12) by Choristers Guild. He has articles published on sacred music and congregational song in multiple journals and co-authored the book All Hands In: Drumming the Biblical Narrative, published by Choristers Guild. While working for The Hymn Society as the Director of The Center for Congregational Song, he is also adjunct professor of church music at Wingate University in Wingate, North Carolina. Brian lives in Baltimore, Maryland, with his wife, Eve, and son, Jakob.

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