The church I serve has a high school choir program. Big deal, right? Lots of churches have high school choirs.
No, this one really is a big deal.
They sing every Sunday in worship, which is not surprising for a church choir, although the fact that a group of high school students sings at the 8:30 service each week (without complaint) certainly is surprising. They tour every summer (with international tours every few years). And then, every year for the last 40 years they have staged a Broadway musical.
This year it’s 42nd Street – yes, “Lullaby on Broadway, the hip hooray and bally hoo.” That one.
Last year it was Oklahoma. The year before that it was Little Shop of Horrors (kind of edgy for a church choir, I know).
We have kids with passable voices (in other words, way better than mine), and we have a few kids who are seriously considering musical theater as a career. And every year, with a little help from a small army of adults (mostly parents, but a few other dedicated volunteers too), they stage a musical that could stand proudly alongside any community theater effort.
It’s astonishing when you think about it.
Here’s the thing, though. There are some in the church who are kind of discouraged. Our numbers are down from the halcyon days. At one time, so I’ve been told, there were more than 60 kids in the choir. Today, on a typical Sunday, we get close to 30 – unless one of the high schools had its homecoming the night before.
Every time I hear the “it’s not what it used to be” refrain (sorry, couldn’t help that one), I get a little defensive, and I’ll tell you why. Most churches would love to have a high school choir, one that sang every Sunday morning. Most churches would be grateful for even a handful of students who would come out every week for rehearsal. What we have is a wonderful gift.
We’ve been hit hard by demographic shifts – and a few other issues (like the ones I mentioned in last Sunday’s sermon) – but the choir goes on. If there is any less energy among the kids today than there was 10-15 years ago, you would never know it from the opening production last night.
These kids are amazingly good, and I’m proud of all of ‘em.