“Body, mind, spirit, voice–it takes the whole person to sing and rejoice.”
Helen Kemp’s famous mantra has exercised a great deal of influence in how I view choral music—whether in the schoolhouse or the church house. Perhaps, it has influenced your ministry philosophy as well. I want to challenge you, as you are in the middle of summer tour ministry (maybe even having completed your tour), to give some focused thought to each element of this maxim as it relates to the members of your student choir.
In your preparation or throughout the actual trip, ask yourself some questions: “What have I done to minister to the body (mind, spirit, voice) during this day of the trip?” “Have I neglected caring for the [body, mind, spirit, voice] today?”
Perhaps you don’t address each aspect every day, but I think it is essential to take a bird’s eye view of your tour and see that you have emphasized each element in some capacity. Even just an awareness of this can go a long way in helping a student minister to the whole person while utilizing their whole person. Here are some ideas:
Care of this temple of the Holy Spirit is crucial. Constant hydration is an obvious ongoing need. Moments of downtime and relaxation allow all four members of the equation to receive needed attention. Well-balanced, filling meals are essential—especially breakfast. I know some directors that have skimped on breakfast, and they found themselves with weak, fatigued, and cranky students. Also, you might take time for a special meal during the tour. I like to do this at the beginning as a “Welcome to ___(city name)_____” meal. Pick something unique to the city that you won’t get anywhere else. Let them really fill up. In terms of exercise, you might have a group of students that would like to get up for a morning jog to start the day. This is a great time for student/chaperone interaction. Sleep, which we all know is at a premium during these trips, is paramount. Yes, students are going to stay up late—we know that. However, a weeklong tour can really take a toll on the body without adequate sleep. Consider setting the “rise and shine” time slightly later near the end of the week. I find it’s often helpful if, on Wednesday or Thursday, the students get to sleep in an hour later or so. It really recharges everyone and helps ward off some moodiness. (Notice I said some, not all.) It might not be possible, but see how you can program an extra hour or so of downtime, if not in the morning. You will thank yourself later and endear yourself to the chaperones.
I think it is so important while traveling with teenagers to make sure they encounter something in our culture (assuming you are in the US) that is of educational value. Students like field trips, and a little sightseeing/learning venture does not have to be dull or boring. It could be in the form of visiting a significant landmark, museum, etc. A visit like this allows students to see that they are engaging in a culture that has existed in time and space with real people and events, all creating a history that can influence their mindset for ministry. Students’ efforts are influencing that local culture’s future, and knowledge of the local culture and its history might better prepare them to be messengers of the Gospel in that locale.
Daily devotionals (whether as individual, small groups, or a choir) are essential to reminding students of their need for the filling of the Holy Spirit to be equipped for works of ministry each day. Also, small group debriefing times (gender specific) at the end of the day allow students to reflect on how they saw God at work and share prayer needs for the coming day. Occasional full group devotionals (perhaps before a concert) bring everyone’s attention to the Godhead who is at work among them individually yet who also gathers individuals into a unified organism for a singular purpose. In my experience, I have found the most effective time for this ministry to the individual spirit to be in the context of a corporate worship service, usually near the end of the trip. We sing worship songs a cappella, read scripture, and share communion.
This is a no brainer. We all know the struggles of those concerts at the end of the week when the voice is fatigued from constant use and lack of sleep. As always, keep plenty of water on hand. Avoid soft drinks in favor of water, juice, powerade, etc. (This lets you save soft drinks for some fun, special events.) Hydration must happen 24 hours before it is needed. Drinking water right before a concert is useless, because the water has to be absorbed into the body. On bus rides to a concert you might consider setting a brief quiet time. This allows students to rest, save their voice, pray or read their Bible, and prepare for the concert. This time can conclude with a prayer on the bus led by you or another chaperone.
Let’s minister to the whole persons in our student choirs so that they can minister to the whole persons they will encounter while on mission.
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