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  • Writer's pictureDavid Winkler

Why Church Orchestra?

Last year the sad news came my way that one of the prominent churches in our city which had had a wonderful choir and orchestra program for decades was shutting it all down. A new pastor had come, and his vision for what he wanted their worship to "look like" didn't match what had been done in the past. So suddenly dozens of people who had been faithful participants for years found that they no longer had a place of service in the music ministry of their church. I understand that we cannot become stuck in the tradition of the past. But is there something about a church having a large choir and orchestra program that is worth maintaining, even as we try to make our message relevant to the world we are trying to reach?

To me, one of the main arguments for keeping a choir and an orchestra is this: realize that these groups are not just musical performance organizations, but discipleship groups. Think about it — here we have dozens of people coming on a weeknight to gather at the church. They come because they love music, yes, but they come for something more; otherwise, they would be in a community choir, band or orchestra. They come for Christian fellowship. They come for prayer and spiritual encouragement. And they come to join together for the purpose of lifting up the name of Christ in their community. That's a powerful combination!

Something else — think of a large auditorium where there's a four-piece rock band on stage and a few singers. Now think of the same stage filled with a large choir and orchestra, singing and playing to the glory of God! That's an impressive testimony that is contagious to those who are in the congregation. On the other side of the argument, I would say to those of us involved in choir and orchestra ministries: we need to work hard to think of how we can make our music more relevant to the 21st Century churchgoer. Fortunately there is a lot of great music available nowadays to fill this need. I hope that some of my music can be helpful to you in your ministry in this regard. I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Write me at

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