Singing In The Choir Pressured to Join The Church

Question to Ask the Workplace  Doctors about not wanting to join:

I am a professional NON-evangelical, NON-Christian musician who volunteers to sing at weekly services. This volunteer job prepares me for professional jobs. How can I communicate with the Choir Director that I don’t want to join his/her church?

Signed, Don’t Want To Join

Dear Don’t Want To Join:

Your query raises several questions: 1. Is this a problem because the Choir Director has persistently asked you to join the church? 2. Has the Director suggested that either you join or that you should not sing in the choir? Or 3. Is this a feeling that you have because, as far as you know, all others in the choir are members of this church?

How might you respond if the invitation to join was only made once? You might simply say, “Thank you for this special invitation to make me welcome, but I’ve come to sing and I enjoy the music. Is it required for choir members to join the church?” That should clear the air unless choir members are strongly expected to join the church. If the Choir Director asks you a second time, you might need to be more assertive, saying, “I appreciate your invitation, but I just want to sing, and I don’t want to be pressured to join this church. Is that a problem?”

You might preface an assertive comment with a polite and respectful note, such as, “I’ve studied music of Christian composers and I enjoy singing in the choir. I’m here because I’m learning from you. And I want to be good enough for you to want me here.”

Your comments undoubtedly can be more specific. You can praise the Director’s special attention to a recent number. You can ask his/her interpretation of some aspect of direction. You can suggest a song that you especially would like to have her/him direct. You can comment on the response of the congregation to choice of music.It is understandable if you do not feel completely welcome if you are in an Evangelical Church.

Those born-again feel compelled to win others to Christ. They have been called to be “fishers of men.” Sometimes, those, who have been taught to win souls, can seem pushy. It is their duty to do all in their power to help you believe. Some of them might strike you as Bible bullies, but they mean well. The act of winning souls confirms for them that they are right about being saved. You will need to understand this.

Yet another approach you might take is to meet separately with the Choir Director and to be up front with her/him about your goals. You might say, “I’m here to learn this type of religious music. I hope to learn from you and to sing with this choir for the next several months. Then I would like your advice of other choirs where I can become familiar with different types of religious music because I want to be a professional singer or at least able to do so part time. I know I have much to learn and I will do my best so long as you want me and I feel welcome.”

Do your best to be enthused as they are about praising their God through music. I predict that if you are winsome in this way that you will feel more a part of the choir even though you have reserved your right not to be a member of their church. I’m sure you know that there are other churches and non-Christian religions that will not pressure you if you can qualify for their choirs. Choirs are a real expression of interdependence and of giving of them selves. To paraphrase my signature advice: Singing together with voice, eyes, and hearts takes and makes big WEGOS.

William Gorden