Vocals in church have evolved more in the past 20 years than in the past 2000.
Choirs had always been the mainstay in worship. Then in the 90’s heyday of contemporary worship you’d see praise teams of 8-12 people spread out on the platform in addition to the choir (old timers, do you remember the Integrity musical “God With Us” with revolutionary parts for both choir and praise team?)
Then during the 2000’s choirs faded a bit and praise teams took over in popularity. Most contemporary worshiping churches today have one of these formats:
1. Larger praise teams of 4-8 people. In these churches, the choir is gone but the larger praise team remains – an ensemble of the best vocalists. While the head worship leader is usually male, both male and female vocalists from the team often rotate leading during the praise set. This format isn’t just seen in traditional/blended worship churches – I’ve seen megachurches with several vocalists spread out across massive stages who lead guitar-driven modern worship. I like this arrangement best as it provides visual and vocal variety. Even though I’m a big fan of contemporary worship, I remember years ago attending my first contemporary church with a small praise team and missing that wall of vocal sound a choir provides. The large praise team format brings back a little of that vocal leadership I’ve missed.
2. Praise team trios. The typical praise team in most churches consists of a soprano, alto and tenor who provide vocal support for the male worship leader. Harmonies are a tight, 3 part vocal sound.
3. Male worship leader with a female backup vocalist or two. Modern, guitar-driven worship churches tend to have a rock band format with a lead male vocalist and a female background vocalist. She’ll usually sing a lower alto harmony to the tenor melody and occasionally lead a song or two.
Take the poll below: Which vocal format(s) best represents your worship ministry in 2018?