OK—so you look at the picture and wonder, “what can a picture of a dish like THAT have to do with recruitment?” More on that shortly.
Notice that, so far, there has been no mention of the prize for winning. I deliberately keep that a mystery—even from the participants. High school students will be tolerant of “not knowing” as long as they know that there will be a great “personally selected” prize for the winning section.
At the end of the contest I meet with the section to determine what their prize will be—I customize it to the section and to the special gifts you have at your church. Here is what I mean, if one of the male sections wins, the prize would be customized to guys, and the reverse if girls win.
Now, here is where the membership of your church come into play. Talk to staff and others and find out the people in your church who perhaps own a suite at a sports facility; perhaps one who manages a Top Golf location; perhaps one who loves to cook great meals; perhaps one who owns a day spa; or manages a nail salon; or, if you live in Texas, the owner of a gun range.
Planning a fun event like that, as a section, can be a great fun day. And they will be talking about it for years. And, if you work with a shop owner to come at a time when they have low demand, it can work for them as well.
So, now we come to the picture above. The last time that we ran this contest the altos won. As I was giving them the several prize options to choose, one of them was to have a 4 course dinner prepared by a wonderful “chef” at our church. One of the girls asked if they could each invite one of the boys in the tenor or bass section (Yes!) and suddenly we had a uproarious unanimous vote!
One point here, you might need to make it that all invited guests to the dinner must be in the choir. That way, it becomes a community building event rather than a “Sadie Hawkins” date night. Another idea on this is that the girls COULD invite a choir prospect, the most important thing is to decide ahead of time who can be invited.
The dinner was a huge success, the church member served dinner outside in their side yard with tables for 4 all decked out, they even strung lights between the trees and made the setting spectacular. The food was sensational and the event was so well received that the choir could hardly wait for the next contest.
There are several reasons that this contest works so well, and it would be important for directors to be intentional as they tap into this. Students love a contest, they love the competition. Further, it builds a sense of community. You want the 3 or 4 sections in your choir to feel like they are a family—just their section, and, on a larger scale, the choir is a family that works together and, from time to time, competes to see who is the BEST.