Recently I was asked why we use so many singers on our worship team during our services? We typically have 8 people singing on our worship team at each service. That is definitely not the trend in modern worship settings. Most churches now a days are only using 2 or 3 singers at most to lead in worship. In fact, when you hear worship songs on the radio it is normally only one singer (the lead) and then one more person doing a harmony part. And I get it. I get the simplicity. Having only 2 or 3 singers is definitely easier (certainly easier to schedule), but here are some reasons for why we don't do it that way.
We are a baptist church with a rich history of choirs. The great thing
about choirs is that you get to sing so many harmony parts. Typical
choirs consist of sopranos, altos, tenors, and basses. That's 4
separate parts. I like the fact that we honor our past in the way we do
modern worship. While only 1 person leads each worship song, on
choruses you get to hear harmony parts (soprano, alto, tenor, and
bass/baritone-which doubles the melody). For a hundred years our church
was accustomed to hearing the choir sing harmony parts. It seems wrong
to completely take that away from them just because we are doing some new things with our worship music.
2) We want
people to participate in worship. People are more inclined to sing if
they hear someone singing their musical "part". For example-if you are a
soprano and the worship is being led by a man (singing lead) and a
woman (singing a tenor/alto harmony) are you going to feel comfortable
singing? You would probably feel as if you were singing all alone. I
don't ever want people to feel that way here. If you sing soprano,
we've got someone you can follow. If you sing alto, we've got someone
on that as well. We want to do everything we can to encourage you to
sing, participate, and hopefully experience the presence of God.
We have really talented singers with hearts that long to lead in
worship. How do I tell a soprano that she can't participate in leading
in worship just because she doesn't sing alto? Or a bass because he
can't sing tenor? That just doesn't seem right to me. If God has
equipped someone musically and given them a desire to lead, it's my
responsibility to get them involved and give them opportunities to lead
and to sing.
4) My own personal musical history and preferences. When I was in college I was in a musical ensemble that traveled all over the state of South Carolina doing concerts at churches, schools, and other events. That group normally consisted on 8 singers (2 sopranos, 2 altos, 2 tenors, and 2 baritone/basses) plus a full band. So, when we sang (the contemporary Christian music of that day) we used a lot of harmony. And I got used to it. I enjoy it. And let's be honest, there's nothing quite as powerful as an ensemble singing a rock ballad in 3 and 4 part harmony. It fills up the sound in a way that a soloist and the band just can't accomplish on their own.
So, that's it. I know that the way we do things at MPBC is probably not the normal way of doing things. But I do believe it is the best way for us to do them. Plus, it means that we can take modern worship songs that other groups are doing and put our own little spin on them. I'm good with us being a little bit different than everybody else.