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  • Writer's pictureDavid Winkler

Why Church Orchestra? (part 2)

Last month I talked about the value of churches retaining their choir and orchestra ministries (rather than trading them in for a praise team/rock band), pointing out that these larger groups are not just musical performance organizations, but also discipleship groups. Those of us who are directors need to keep in mind not only the musical goals we have for our groups, but also the spiritual goals of providing a place for fellowship, prayer, and spiritual encouragement as we meet with our people each week. This month, I want to turn from the “why” to the “how.” Here are a few things I try to do to keep a spiritual focus to our orchestra ministry: 1. Begin and end with prayer. Typically, after a few minutes of warmup (during which time some folks are still getting to rehearsal), I share a few devotional thoughts and then have a short prayer, asking God to bless our time together. At the end of our rehearsal,, we have a time for prayer requests, usually led by one of our orchestra members. 2. Include “devotional” moments, either in a more formal, brief time of sharing a scripture or devotional reading, or in passing comments between songs in rehearsal. Each week, I try to think of something good to share with our folks. Sometimes it will be a scripture; other times, it may be a short passage of something I’ve read recently that impressed me. Another idea is to occasionally have one of your orchestra members lead in the devotional time. 3. Read the lyrics of the songs the music is based on. Instrumentalists don’t have the blessing of interacting directly with the texts of the songs like the choir does. Take time at least once in your rehearsal to read some of the lyrics of a worship song or anthem you are working on so that the players can get an idea of the message being presented. Also, I encourage our players during our worship services to look up at the screens to see the lyrics of the songs, and to sing along when they are not playing. 4. Get to know each person and become aware of the needs in his or her life. Learn about their family, their work, etc., and be aware of times when they may need special prayer. Each time you meet, try to get around and greet each person individually. Plan “fellowship” times so that folks can get to know one another better. Food is always a good catalyst to help in this (ice cream!). In ending, I want to direct you to some posts by my good friend, Jeff Cranfill, longtime orchestra director at First Baptist Church of Atlanta, Georgia. Jeff has some great ideas for directors in a blog he calls the “Musicians Institute.” Here’s a link: Questions or comments? Send me an email at

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