Constructing Successful Student Choirs for the Second Quarter of the 21st Century

Part One – Daunting
Part Two – Beyond Mere Possibility
Part Three – Listening
Part Four – Leading
Part Five – Following
Part Six – Courage vs. Shyness
Part Seven – Collaborating
Part Eight – Goodbye to Me First
Part Nine – Choral Music … Much More Than Singing
Part Ten – Revealing Riches and Building Lives

Beyond Mere Possibility

Building a billion-dollar freeway system in the big fat middle of some of the busiest, most crowded traffic conditions in the United States – well, to most of us, that task feels impossible. It seems even more unlikely when one considers that this entire process will happen from beginning to completion in under four years.

When dealing with the daily traffic during those four years, it can feel like forever. But let me assure us … it is not forever. In the slightly larger scope of life, four years is not much time at all to move that much dirt, clear that much space, erect that much steel, pour that much concrete, pave that much mileage, and accomplish that much improvement. It would be an accomplishment enough to complete it in four years on wide open land, but remember, hundreds of thousands of vehicles are still traveling on this freeway every single day and night as the construction crews do their work. In the grand scheme of things, four years is not very long.

Four years … the length it takes to earn a bachelors degree. Or to hold another presidential election. Or to pay off a standard vehicle loan. Or for an infant to begin kindergarten … well, maybe five. Or for a graduating eighth grader to become a high school graduate.

Four years well spent could also totally transform the way our student choir ministries operate, look, and sing.

The problem for most of us youth choir directors – and I certainly include myself in this statement – is that we become totally immersed and often bogged deeply down in the present picture. When we are up to our necks in the all-consuming minutia of a small group of students, it becomes quicksand before we realize it. For many of us, our diminutive or plateaued youth choirs have become full-time jobs (at least they are emotionally). While we convince ourselves we are ministering extra-deeply with the students we currently have, oftentimes, we are actually mollycoddling our young singers, catering to their whims and wants rather than their deepest needs. Our failure to adequately envision our future programs will normally lead to drawing the circle smaller and smaller around our existing groups. We begin thinking way too small in our workday routines and, as we do, the groups we serve begin to think of themselves as the center of the universe. We often fall into the traps of the mere maintenance “of those we have.” When the world and the vision of the leader is limited to the here and now, our choir groups will shrink and the group we have will become more self-centered.

The solution is for us directors to work off of a vision that today may well seem impossible. The vision is not just a dream or a misty fantasy. It is a dream with specific plans to move us from Point A to Point B and eventually from Point Y to Point Z.

As we live in and with the Spirit, we will “dream dreams and see visions.” Along with those holy ideas, with discipline and diligent work, the dreams can be translated into specific plans, goals, and task lists.

Looking to the future of our ministries with students, let us not only ask the question, “What is possible?” but let us also live in and lean into the question, “What is the Spirit leading and empowering us to accomplish over time?”

Let us consider the power beyond the mere possibilities.

Randy Edwards
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