When you hear the phrase “church choir” what comes to mind? Large? Traditional? Sings hymns? Wears robes?
What would it be like if:
- Many church choirs wrote their own songs
- Every church had 2-3 choirs and and large churches might have 10 or more
- Choirs expected the congregation to learn their songs and sing along
- Some choirs sang in a language which is the mother tongue of only a fraction of the congregation and some churches would have several of these
- Choirs offered support to choir members and others during times of bereavement, illness, unemployment, etc.
- A significant portion of choir meetings was spent in sharing and prayer
- Choirs expected that at least some people in the pew would come to the front and dance for joy with choir members during rousing songs
- In some rural churches, as many as 70% of choir members could not read or write, just like the rest of the congregation
I don’t have to imagine this. I live in it. This us what church choirs are in much of Africa.
Now, imagine that you are part of a team doing the first translation ever into a language and you are looking for more ways to get this new translation into hearts and minds. A local person suggests choirs, but you still think about choirs the way you did at home. So you reject that crazy idea.
It has happened just like that. Of course, others realized that if choirs compose and sing Scripture songs in the local language, Bible reading and memorization happen. It’s cheap, sustainable and fits the local system.
Being effective when working in another culture means making a conscious choice to call your understanding into question, even for things you know (or think you know) perfectly well, such as choirs.