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Emotional needs in Church Choir setting

How best to handle the emotional needs of the choir in the most compassionate loving way?   I love my choir members , however many feel that the director is also their personal psychologist or councelor and there is not always time for that during rehearsal, and especially minutes before a performance or service- a time I generally need to focus inward for a minute.    Some of these problems are serious and it does feel easy or compassionate to redirect them when they start talking, especially since we are all a part of a spiritual community.
How do others handle this kind of thing their ensembles?
Replies (3): Threaded | Chronological
on February 25, 2014 2:20pm
A few thoughts:
1.  Do you set aside time for prayer within your rehearsals?  I think this is CRITICAL for a church choir.  we do our prayer time right at the end of rehearsal, so it does not take up any of our singing time at all.  When your choir members are comfortable they will often share things during this time and that gives you the freedom to then follow up when it is convenient for you, such as with a phone call the next day or something like that.  It also opens up the opportunity for the choir to minister to one another in many situations.
2.  Develop a quick but gentle response for these types of situations.  "I'm so glad you shared that with me..."  "...Can you stay after the rehearsal/worship service to talk a little more?" or "...Can I call you/meet with you/have lunch with you to talk more?"  This type of response gets you out of a lengthy conversation if your time is short, but makes the person feel cared for at the same time. :)
Julie Ford
Applauded by an audience of 3
on February 25, 2014 9:16pm
Julie, YES, we have a sublime meditation before warm ups, and a prayer circle afterward.  They are definitely prayed up and cared for!  Great advice, thank you for your thoughtful reply!
on February 26, 2014 11:23am
I'm not currently leading a volunteer choir, but I am in one, and I see, week in and week out, how people come to choir to get recharged and for support with their struggles. I like the way our director has a prayer at the end of rehearsal, and prays specifically out loud for anyone who has a particularly pressing need that week. There is a time in the actual service for "petitions," and people get named there who ask to be on the list.
I can't see your exact situation, but you clearly invite people to share their struggles, which is great; it's just where the line gets drawn, especially when you need to chill and get ready. I like Julie's suggestions and believe they are worth trying.  Nobody will think you uncaring if you put them off for the moment, as long as you really do get back to them later! Also, only you can decide when something is too much for you and needs to be gently referred to clergy, a pastoral-care volunteer or staffperson, or someone in the professional community.  -- Jonathan Miller
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