One of the most common questions we ask is how someone can start their own Beer and Hymns. We love seeing this replicated, and decided to write down some of our core values to help anyone else starting their own chapter.
- The audience is the choir. Keep the volume at a lower level so people can hear their own voices. Back off on occasion so that the singing is a capella. Let people feel like their voice is a contribution to the community.
- It’s not a concert. Sing the hymns in a way that is recognizable instead of doing new arrangements. Avoid vocal runs or departing from the melody. Consider having multiple singers on stage so there is not one leader but rather a modeling of the communal style.
- Don’t program too heavily. It’s not a performance, so it’s okay if there is a pause between songs when people laugh and chat. Maintain a laid-back vibe. Allow for some fun banter between the people on stage and the audience.
- Choose musicians who are excited about the vision and values. In this case, humility and a positive attitude are as important as musicianship. It’s not a place for egos, or a place for someone to show off their skills or get “discovered.” Again, it’s abou the audience, and the musicians are just facilitators.
- Everyone is welcome. We want people of all races, genders, sexual orientations and religious persuasions to feel welcome, and we will reflect this diversity on stage as much as possible.
- No agenda. There is no sermon. No prayer. No alter call. No admonition to get to church. This is a gathering for people who love church and people who are over church. It’s not church.
- Seek the balance between fun and reverent. Take care not to be irreverent and to be respectful of the music and lyrics.
- Use social media to promote and invite. Take photos and video at the events. Use facebook and twitter and instagram to get the word out. Create a hashtag and ask participants to post about it. Repost photos that other take at the event.
- Have hymnals with the lyrics. Make sure that people who don’t know the words have an easy way to sing along.