It is always good to ask questions of successful leaders, especially if they engage in the same job as you. Over dinner on a recent trip I had the opportunity to speak with Ray Jones, worship pastor, from Community Bible Church, San Antonio, TX. This church has witnessed tremendous growth since its inception in 1990. Today on a typical weekend over 8000 people attend worshipon their campus in six different services; three of which Ray leads with a 125 voice choir, out front vocals, rhythm section and orchestra.
MHS: Community Bible Church is a rare congregation in the fact it is considered contemporary but still uses a ‘worship choir’ in its main weekend services each week. What drove this decision to keep the choir ministry?
RJ: When moving into our new worship center (2007) we thought hard about the ministry of the choir and came to the conclusion that they add a unique energy to our services. We also believe that their example as worshipers encourage our congregation to engage in the act of passionate worship. Another reason is: the choir gives a segment of our population a place to serve that would not have a place to serve.
MHS: How many members do you have in your choir?
MHS: Do they all sing of your three weekend services?
RJ: No, they sing in the service they regularly attend.
MHS: How do you stay connected with that large of a ministry team?
RJ: We have 53 ‘care’ team leaders who main responsibility is to connect with a group of 8-10.
MHS: When do you do choir rehearsal?
RJ: Wednesday nights from 7:00 – 8:30 PM. At 6:30 PM we also have a fellowship time, hang out time, that many of our members attend. Just recently we have added a Wednesday 12:00 noon rehearsal for mothers with small children. There is only a small percentage who attend this rehearsal but it provides a way for these moms to participate.
MHS: Besides the main worship room you have other services in other venues, how do the venue services differ in style?
RJ: The style is really driven by the personnel. In the main room there is choir, vocals, orchestra and band. In the CBCCentral there is just vocals and band. CBCLatino is driven by band and vocals with additional instruments (brass) giving it a more Latino feel.
MHS: Is there a worship theology/philosophy that is consistent?
RJ: As a worship staff we meet each Monday, which includes all the worship leaders from the various venues. In those meetings we discuss what each venue has planned for the upcoming weeks. We all bring various ideas to the table. We have determined to all use the same set of songs in all the venues, not necessarily on the same week but over a course of time. The reason behind this; we want our people to be familiar enough with a group of songs that they could go to anyone of our venues and engage in worship.