I Miss Brother Baek

Many visitors to our Sunday worship services compliment our choir, remarking that they were touched by the music. I usually reply with a smile, “Yes, our choir members may not be musically talented but they are spiritual.” Our choir members actually are very musically talented but I try to be modest. But there’s actually another motive behind my response. I want to convey the message that the role of the choir is to worship, not just to sing.

Our late brother Baek played a critical role in transforming our choir from a singing group to a worshiping one. As far as church music was concerned he knew exactly what I wanted. He changed their singing technique from a classical one to a more modern style so that the words could more clearly be understood. He focused on helping choir members experience the same inspiration that the songwriters felt instead of just making good music. He encouraged choir members to become worshipers themselves rather than a group who helped worship services.

The thing I appreciated most about him was that he understood the purpose of the church: to reach the unsaved and make disciples of them. So when we instituted the policy of allowing no meetings after Sunday worship services other than the house church shepherds and teachers weekly meetings, he complied without a protest and moved the choir practice time to Wednesdays after prayer meetings, which resulted in the number of choir members dropping by a third.

When we announced that our church’s number one priority would be the house church, its second priority children’s education, and all the rest of the ministries third, he respected the decision and recommended that choir members serve in children’s ministry (to the chagrin of some choir members). As a talented musician he must have had a strong desire to develop many music programs in our church but he kept all his ideas to himself to prevent interfering with our church’s primary ministries.

I miss him. It is impossible to replace him. But our choir members want to have a new director, so we have decided to find a replacement. However, we have changed the title of the position from Choir Director to Worship Leader. Traditionally, choir directors are professionals with a degree in music. By changing the title, we provided a way for someone who doesn’t have a degree in music but is musically talented and enjoys worshiping with experience in managing musical groups to fill the position. I don’t want a professional whose only qualification is having a degree to direct our church music programs.

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