Monday, September 17, 2007

Discussion: Talent?

Here's a recent post on one of the Christian forums I participate in:

"Our choir has a very talented group of singers and musicians, and I am thankful to be a part of it. However, our music minister consistently overlooks most of the singers in the choir and when there are solos in songs, it's always the same 3 or 4 people (which includes himself). This has been an ongoing problem for a couple of years, and it breaks my heart when I see those who are overlooked for whatever reason. These people take their time and talent to be a part to minister, and are never given an opportunity to even try out for a part they feel led to do. I know that most of the decisions in a choir have to the leaders, but we never have tryouts, we have no communication (other than what time to show up), and those who I love as fellow christians who do sing those special parts I am starting to resent just for this fact. I don't know what to do. PLEASE HELP"

Here are a few of my responses so far:

"It appears that the issue really isn't the soloist thing. The issue is the lack of communication. There may be a very good reason for only using a limited number of soloists, or there may not...regardless, it's never been explained to the choir.

To be honest, we have about 30 people involved in our vocal ministries (band, worship choir, etc.), but I only consider 4 of those people for "solos" because the rest simply are not shaped for this part of our ministry. Every church is different, but every church should be clear on the how's and why's concerning involvment in ministry. Again, this seems to be the major issue here.

If I were you, I would approach the worship leader and ask him if he has any policies/strategy concerning the soloists...if so, would he consider explaining those policies to the choir as a whole so that everyone is aware, if not, would he consider thinking about those things so that he can begin to communicate. Try to keep your personal emotions out of it for the time being...simply focus on finding out why there is a lack of communication. Again, he may have a good reason, he just needs to work on his communication."

And (after another poster agreed that limiting solos to a select few was "wrong"):

""Talent" is sooooo subjective. The "talent" standard should be set by your leaders, and as long as that standard has a purpose and is communicated well, what can you do? If I allowed everyone who said they had "talent" or was recommended (by people who really believe they know what "talent" sounds like) because it was thought they had "talent", our Sunday mornings would look/sound like an American Idol audition...

Every member of the body has it's feet can do a lot of things that my hands can do, but none of them nearly as well. I can clap with my inches, and I can walk on my hands...but, if I'm going to have a hand clap solo, or if I'm going to walk for more than a few feet, I'm going to choose the part of my body that's going to get it done the best, and I'm going to expect that my feet and hands don't get jealous or hurt because I didn't choose them. They should know better...

I guarantee that every member of your choir who may never get asked to sing a solo has been created by God to fill another role in your church in a better way than anyone else can. Every member of the body can shine and feel the satisfaction and purpose that comes with serving in ministry, but only if they're allowed to find out what part they are and are given the opportunity to shine."

What say ye?



higgie07 said...

I think this is a great answer. As a former worship leader, and now a member of a team at a new church, I have been on both sides of this issue. The WL at our new church is very good at communicating his "requirements" for what we call the "frontline" vocal team. This is the team who "backs up" the worship leader on Sundays, and can also sometimes sing a lead part or a "special" on a Sunday. This team is by audition and the job description states that you must be able to confidently sing a harmony, lead part or solo if asked. Some people have auditioned and have not made it and are a part of the choir, but they are also told they can audition again in the future if they wish. I think the worship leader is open to have new people audition for frontline but does have standards he has set which I think are pretty clear. I think that is the key--everyone knows up front what is expected so there is no confusion or hurt feelings.

I love your hands and feet analogy. That's an excellent way to put it.

MilePost13 said...

good stuff.

riverflow said...

Nate, I agree...very thoughtful and helpful responses.

I was a choir director for quite a few years, and this person's concerns sound familiar. And valid. Well-meaning people sometimes have a difficult time understanding why anybody can't just stand up and sing a solo if their heart desires. (It's an odd thing in that if you suggested the same sort of policy for volunteering for a sermon, most people would think you were wacky.)

I think you nailed it with this: "Every church is different, but every church should be clear on the how's and why's concerning involvment in ministry. Again, this seems to be the major issue here."


Pat Dryburgh said...

man, that is so true of so many things.

i'm also glad i don't have a choir. haha!

pat d

MilePost13 said...

We have a worship choir, but we do'nt have any issues with "solos". :)

Jim Puckett said...

This is one of those things....
you know? just one of those things......

The people who normally are upset or screaming the loudest are most often the people who will never make it up front.

For me the standards go way beyond talent. In fact I would take an A- or B+ talent if I had an A+ in teachability and some other character issues.

I had a girl who wanted on our frontline so bad - but she left a cloud of demolition dust with every relationship she had - in the church and out. To set her up as a frontline leader would have done some real credibility damage to the worship ministry - it would have distracted from Jesus instead of pointing to him and ultimately would have fed a very negative part of her personality.

This idea that everyone should get a chance is just not so - and its not because its the church - music is that way throughout any arena. This isn't an equal opportunity situation - this isn't a place for quotas and "AWWWWWWW bless her heart - she can't sing but she sure gives it all to God doesn't she?" This is a place where God should get the very best we have to give.

You guys know that I am starting over in a new church. But where I ended - we had a "no apology" stance for using our A string. But know with that - that everyone who was up there would step aside (they even offered to). They would prefer one another over themselves. Not one of them ever asked to be on the frontline - I selected and invited them. And not once - not EVER - did one of them come and say - "Hey I have this song I really want to sing some time..."

There were some jealousies from time to time, but they were short lived and our purpose and SHAPE issues got us past them pretty smoothly.

sometimes the choir would have a song with a solo verse that wasn't too demanding and didn't "require" an a string soloist. I would hold open auditions for these. Sometimes it would help me discover a new gift.

MilePost13 said...

Good stuff, Jim. Thanks for contributing!