Building Bridges with a Gospel Choir

Is there a place for a gospel choir in a predominantly white Christian high school? What would such a choir look like? What would it sound like? What would be the benefits to the choir members and their communities? In this article Nate Glasper shares his heart and his journey with a group of high school students from Grand Rapids Christian High School. —JB

I begin with a truth. Multicultural worship that is facilitated through music creates environments that build bridges. There is a connection between different generations, cultures, and ethnicities when people sing together. There is an invitation for everyone to join in and participate in the worship setting when the focus is Christ-centered. I believe that a common bond is released in the atmosphere and barriers are removed when corporate worship goes forth. It is important to consider the diversity in the room and render songs that address the unique styles and expressions of the individuals present.  

For five years Mark Kuiper, who serves in the Spiritual Life Office at Grand Rapids Christian High School (GRCHS), shared his vision of forming a Gospel Choir, and finally his dream has come to pass. I count it an honor to be invited to the GRCHS family to facilitate this endeavor and help this dream unfold.

My experience with the students of GRCHS has been a great opportunity for me to live one of my passions: to impact youth and young adults in a positive way and help them come to know the God of the lyrics we sing about. I look forward to teaching songs and movements to the youth. The excitement the students and faculty have shown is unmatched. I have developed a real appreciation for the exchange that takes place when I introduce a song and the students offer their voices and musical talents to make a tapestry of sound that gives glory to God.

The Gospel Choir brings a spirit of unity to the GRCHS community. It’s amazing to see a group of diverse individuals (faculty included) gathered together, singing praises to the King. Music has the power to unite any group of people. Christ-centered music has the power to unite and bring people from all walks of life into the presence of the Lord. I believe this is a great opportunity for students and faculty to express their love for Christ and to encourage others to live a lifestyle of worship.  

Music has the power to unite any group of people. Christ-centered music has the power to unite and bring people from all walks of life into the presence of the Lord.

As a worship leader/choir director, I enjoy leading others because I understand that it pleases God when he hears a corporate sound of sincere worshipers. I have encountered God, and I’m passionate about creating atmospheres where his presence is valued, his healing virtue freely flows, and lives are impacted and changed forever. I’m also passionate about leading God’s people in worship regardless of denominational experiences, ethnic backgrounds, or even generational differences. I desire to inspire and encourage others to be pleasing to God not only in song but also in the lifestyle that they live. My jovial, outward expression of praise comes from an inward reality that God is real and he is worthy to receive all praise and glory.

Multicultural worship involves individuals who are different from us culturally and worshiping God corporately in the same place at the same time. This simply means that sometimes we have to get out of our comfort zones to embrace differences. God would have made us all the same if he wanted us to be the same. But instead God made us different and unique. When all of God’s children come together in a worshipful environment releasing a glorious sound of praise to the heavens, I believe it moves the heart of God and it is a pleasing sound to his ears.

As choir director I often select songs that are familiar to some and challenging to others and then there are times when I like to teach something of a totally different language that no one knows. The beauty of this is that these youth and young adults of GRCHS are ready and willing to learn because they understand that we are releasing this praise to God, who is our audience.

It is truly an honor and a privilege to serve, and I am excited for what’s to come for the Gospel Choir at Grand Rapids Christian High School. My prayer is that as we move forward, many lives will be impacted!

Nate Glasper serves as the director of the Gospel Choir at Grand Rapids Christian High School, assistant director of Calvin College’s gospel choir, and worship leader at Grace for the Nations Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Reformed Worship 116 © June 2015 Worship Ministries of the Christian Reformed Church. Used by permission.