Church Orchestra

Trumpets, Trombones, and Tubas.
Flutes, French Horns and Flugelhorns.
Violins, Violas and Variable Percussion Instruments.

We’re building an Orchestra at SAFMC and it’s going OK. Not great if you’re counting by the numbers (we fluxuate from 2 to over 10) but OK in terms of what it means over the long haul. You have to start somewhere. Most churches abolished (or at least marginalized) orchestras in the 80’s and 90’s. I’m not saying that they’re making a nationwide comeback but I do see the ministry potential of an orch at SAFMC, and I’m committed to nurturing it as needed. We hear good things that match our intention, namely, that the work of the people (liturgy) is enhanced. I too feel the benefit of having an orchestra, as it brings instrumental dimension to the music of every hymn. It is valuable, and it’s even biblical — we see multitudes of different instruments showing up in the Psalms. But alas, no lyre players. Yet.

I haven’t found many churches “out there” who are ressurecting instrumentation like this — but I know they’re out there. We’re one of ’em. We’re trying to figure out how SAFMC worships in 2007. What does that sound like? What does it look like? What’s at stake?

I was in a meeting with someone and we were talking about secular music in a worship setting. The question was asked as to whether or not it was appropriate. I’m not sure, but I guess it depends on your philosophy/theology. Secular music for the sake of secular music isn’t a very compelling argument, just like eating candy bars for breakfast is good because one likes candy bars more than eggs or cereal. Secular music that speaks a truth — a Truth — or an expression that can be exegeted by someone before or after, has great value in liturgy and teaching. We have all heard of the great pastor/teacher that holds a newspaper/website in one hand and the bible in the other. How do we interpret culture? Interpritation is not the same as ignoring. In fact, by ignoring it, we interpret it as useless, foul, evil. Sure, some of it is. But we’re all part of culture. We use electricity and drive cars. We watch TV and use the internet. So if we’ve codified all culture as evil, then we must examine why our actions don’t match our ideals. A truth explained in a song by Big & Rich has far more value than even some “christian” songs, depending on the context.

It all comes back to a philosophy. What is it that makes you move? Why worship? Why gathering? Why music? Why Sunday morning?

For us, we came to the conclusion that for both corporate gatherings, we wanted to define a worship environment. We love Jesus, we love people — and these people need to be in the presence of the Lord. That’s our philosophy. And so everything we do comes out of that — which means that if we come across a song that is even secular but teaches a truth, we’d use it. Take, for example, U2. “But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” is a good 20% of the Psalms. Sure, U2 is a very safe example, but you get the point. Let Rascal Flatts talk about God blessing broken roads. Let Keane talk about how we bend & break. These are True and can be “redeemed” for corporate Worship. Doing Blink 182 just because it’s hip suggests a pretty shoddy philosophy and an even weaker Theology.  (By the way, I love Blink 182).

All that to say that what we do in corporate worship comes out of a philosophy/theology that says “here’s what we’re all about, and here’s how it will play out on Sunday”. This is basic organizational theory but I’m amazed at how often it eludes churches — and even me. Please note, however, that it’s more than a mission statement. May the Lord rescue us from Mission statements that add to what is already a great mission, strongly suggested by Jesus in Matthew 28. This is a philosophy: a way of thinking that has very little to do with goals besides the overarching goal of simply being what we were created to be.

About radamdavidson

When I'm not blogging, I'm hanging out with my family, pastoring a church, or listening to vinyl. I think and write about Jesus, music, communication, organizational leadership, family whatnot, and cultural artifacts from the 1980's -- mostly vintage boomboxes. You can read my blog at, watch [RadCast], a daily 3 minute video devotional, or find me on socials (@radamdavidson). I also help Pastors in their preaching and public speaking (
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