Music has a variety of uses in the Nigerian church. It can be used for celebration, prayer, evangelism, discipleship, encouragement, teaching, and preaching, among others. As a result, the music leader(s) is/are seen as role models to the congregation in all spheres of life and ministry. The music leader(s) is/are prepared in knowledge, spiritual walk, and music skills through various training programs. In essence, music leaders provide an atmosphere conducive for personal and corporate worship through adequate spiritual preparation, planning, and commitment, they also prepare people’s hearts to receive the message of the Lord in a sermon. Generally, in Nigerian churches, musical teams perform the noble task of bringing life and flavor to the church services spiritually, musically, and otherwise.
The music ministry is opened to as many genuinely saved, matured, and baptized believers (male and female). There are no gender discriminations. There is usually one central choir in the church that is often called Sanctuary choir. This is the main choir of the church. There may be gender-based choirs like the Men’s Ensemble or the Women Choir in a church. There are also age graded choirs, like the Children’s choir, and Teenagers’ Choir. Such choirs apart from the Sanctuary Choir usually perform occasionally, whereas in some churches, they perform at every Sunday service in the church. The autonomy of the local church permits each Baptist church to develop their guiding principles for recruitment into the choir. Some of the primary conditions may include the person’s salvation experience, skillfulness, age range and so on. Ethnicity is not a barrier, except for congregations within some localities that predominantly speak a particular language which other people may not be familiar with. Gender, ethnicity, class, or age does not affect participation in music making in Nigerian churches.
Most of our churches have a choir loft. This is a reserved special space designed and customized for the singers and players of music instruments. The players of music instruments are popularly known as “instrumentalists” or “Music Band” in many Nigerian Christian congregations. The Choir Loft is usually an elevated platform which often is a part of the altar. In some cases, the loft is on a lower ground. Most of the time, choristers sing from their loft while at other instances, they process to the altar to sing when it is their turn in the service. The music instruments are usually arranged close to the choir loft to enable good communication when conducting or leading any song. In some churches, the music team stay on the podium in front just like the Pastors and elders, while in some congregation, the choir seat with the congregation. For example, in my (Victoria) last place of service, the choirs’ seat was on one side of the auditorium and the choir will have to process to the raised platform which is different from the one the pastor preaches from and then move back to their seat after each ministration. The arrangements are peculiar with different churches. The good news is that most churches now consider the choir loft as a factor in the building plan, unlike it used to be.
Contributed by Gracious Okoronkwo.