The Gateway Choir comes together to do something new.
The members of the Gateway Choir lined up before the final service of the 2014 Gateway Conference. It was the largest number of singers Gateway had ever put on a platform—135 singers in all—as they prepared to lead thousands of people in worship along with Rita Springer on her song, “This Blood.”
There was a murmur coming from the large group as they stood in line waiting to go out on the platform, but it wasn’t the nervous chatter of performers about to take the stage—it was the sound of people interceding for God to do something big. During this moment, no one was singing, but their sound blended together in perfect harmony. Little did they know, something big was about to happen to them.
Just moments before walking out onto to the risers on the platform, Pastor Kelly Allsopp, the associate worship pastor and choir leader, interrupted their excitement with an announcement. The worship team had reworked the song, and the choir would need to learn new parts in the few moments remaining. “I was shouting to them, trying to let them know what to sing.”
Minutes later, the choir took their places and Rita Springer launched into the soulful gospel song. By the time the song reached its crescendo, the presence of God in the room was palpable and the congregation, which consisted of pastors and worship leaders from around the globe, was on its feet. Despite the song’s last-minute changes, the choir members sang with precision and their energy practically blew the roof off the Southlake Campus.
The choir members who were there that night try to describe it but just end up saying, “You had to be there.” Now thanks to We Cry Out, the Gateway Choir’s first worship album, people can hear that version of “This Blood” any time they want. The album also includes renditions of several of Gateway Worship’s most popular songs from over the years. But it serves an even bigger purpose than simply being music to enjoy—it’s a resource for churches as well. As church choirs experience a resurgence, Gateway is leading the charge.
More than 32,000 churches of all sizes have received a special version of the album that can accompany their musicians and singers during their services. There are a wide variety of options available. For example, one version of the title track, “We Cry Out,” includes the recording of Gateway’s full band and choir, while another version allows churches to play along with a few background singers or just an alto section of the choir. In essence, this tool will help enhance worship at thousands of churches. “Our musicians and singers will be leading churches in worship all over the world,” says Kelly. “Big churches, little churches, and all different denominations.”
Pastor Kelly is quick to draw parallels between the choir and the story of Jehoshaphat in the Old Testament. In 2 Chronicles 20, the armies from three kingdoms had come against Israel, who was greatly outnumbered. Jehoshaphat, the king of Israel, cried out to God in desperation. God told him the enemy would be defeated and Israel wouldn’t even have to lift a hand in the battle. Because the people of
Israel were so confident in God’s promise, when they sent their army into the battle, they assembled a choir and put them on the front line. As soon as the choir began praising God, the other armies became confused and completely destroyed each other.
"Our musicians and singers will be leading churches in worship all over the world."
In many regards, every time the Gateway Worship Choir sings, they prepare for it as if they’re going out for battle—or rather, for a victory that has already been guaranteed. In fact, singing is only part of what they do. Intercession is a better way to describe the choir’s role. Whether it’s during the worship service, rehearsal, or in a restaurant, choir members can be seen praying for people. “You can’t say, ‘I have a crick in my neck’ without 18 people rushing over to pray for you,” says Loisa Matthys, a worship ministry coordinator and choir member.
It’s that sense of community that makes the choir such a tight-knit group. When people go into battle with you and for you, it creates a strong bond, and the singers are often in the proverbial trenches with one another. There’s always room for more people too. No matter what campus you attend, the choir is always looking for new members. Kelly often describes it as a community, but it’s clear from hearing her talk that it has developed into something much more. “Most of the time when new people come in, they say the same thing,” she says. “They say, ‘It feels like family.’”
We Cry Out is available at Gateway Bookstore and on iTunes. To find out more about the Gateway Choir and how to join, visit worship.gatewaypeople.com.