Music Ministry Benchmarks: Choir Members

by vernsanders on March 15, 2011

This is number five in a sequence about benchmarks that started here, and continued here. We’ve specifically talked about benchmarks for a church’s chief accompanist for congregational singing here. Last time, we talked about benchmarks for a worship team member here.

Remember that what follows is my opinion, and not the result of a scientific study. It is, however, based upon years of practical experience.

In talking about choir members we negotiate a slippery slope. In churches, many choir members don’t measure up, talent-wise, to the other leadership positions we will talk about in this series. That’s not a bad thing! It is, however, a fact of life. By and large, a church choir needs more time and effort to do their leadership well. They also need more specifically talented leadership to help them do their own ministry, but that’s a later post.

A choir can be a few people or several hundred voices strong. That means that, in most cases, members of a choir feel a certain “safety in numbers” comfort about the contribution of their talents to the whole ensemble. At the same time, a choir can have very talented people sitting next to not-so-talented people, and that can create a unique set of problems. Let’s look at  some basic benchmarks for a choir member. Here’s my list:


  • Can help lead congregational singing without placing the spotlight on themselves, either because of bad musicianship or wannabe stardom
  • Understand the “team” concept of working together for the goal of leading the congregation in worship


  • Is  comfortable in a variety of musical styles
  • Is comfortable in a variety of keys so that the team leads the congregation in the congregation’s comfortable singing range
  • Is prepared for rehearsal and worship, either because of the ability to play or the willingness to work at home to learn their part


  • Is flexible and able to respond positively (both in attitude and musically) when a particular song demands they take a different role in the ensemble
  • Can “lead” if called upon to do so
  • Can modify accompaniment or vocal scoring verse to verse based upon the text of that particular verse
  • Listens and internally “sings along” with the congregation, adjusting when needed or appropriate
  • Understands what a hook is, and can reproduce or create one when asked
  • Can play or sing comfortably with other members of the team, helping the group stay in the pocket, whatever those other team members’ musical capabilities are

I’m sure you can think of more things in each category, but the main reason for these posts is to start conversations. Tell me what you think by leaving a comment below.

Next time? Benchmarks for the choir director. Stay tuned…

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