By Jeanette Littleton, Word&Way Correspondent
How can churches reach out to their communities through music programs? Here are several ways that may be a bit out of the ordinary but are bound to add a different dimension to your church's outreach programs.
”¢ Host a school of music. Do you have enough talented musicians to have a church orchestra or band? Consider offering a music school for the community.
Use orchestra members who are qualified to teach lessons — they don't have to be professional music teachers. Make sure this is known and charge accordingly.
Offer small group instrumental and vocal instruction and private lessons.
”¢ Offer a summer concert. If you have an orchestra, hold a Fourth of July concert on the church lawn. Include an ice-cream social or offer other snacks. Include classical music, as well as hymns and some contemporary music.
”¢ Host a musical. Pick a Christian script or choose a good, clean old one — such as "The Sound of Music" or "Fiddler on the Roof." Open auditions and roles such as set design to the community. Consider using funds earned to support a community project.
”¢ Often communities and businesses bring in music groups to sing at events, such as having performers at a mall to bring in traffic or singing at civic club events. Sign up your musicians for these endeavors, which are perfect for small choirs. If your choir is too big to perform en masse at these kinds of events, create quartets, trios, swing/select choirs, etc. For this type of outreach, your groups may need to learn and perform some appropriate secular songs, too.
”¢ Host a Sweet Adeline group or barbershop quartet at your church. Consider letting organizations such as these use your church for conferences, with your choir as host.
”¢ Enter your church musicians in local competitions for exposure.
”¢ Invite community adult or teen choirs or orchestras to use your facilities for practices and performances. You also can offer church facilities to local public schools for concerts. High schools usually have a large enough auditorium for concerts, but not for district concerts. And elementary schools rarely have adequate concert space.
”¢ Host expected events — a Christmas concert, Singing Christmas Tree or Easter cantata.
”¢ Encourage musicians to be involved in community music opportunities on their own. Some will see them as a great way to reach out to others, and may even bring those talented performers into the church or into a walk with Christ.
”¢ Host a dinner theatre, with a musical or music that community patrons can enjoy. You're more likely to draw the unchurched if proceeds benefit a community project.
”¢ Host a community talent show. You can turn it into a contest and give prizes, perhaps donated by church members. Local businesses often donate to such causes, too. (04-20-06)
See the April 20, 2006, print issue for more about technology and worship.