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What to Do About the Shortage of Instrumentalists in the Church

What to Do About the Shortage of Instrumentalists in the Church

Churches across our nation are experiencing a shortage of instrumentalists, which is greatly affecting the quality of worship.

For many, the pianist has retired or moved away and there is no one in the church with the skills to fill the position. For churches with organs, perhaps no one is available and capable to play them. For our churches that want to incorporate a worship band, they often are not able to find suitable musicians to fill out a full band.

I see at least two ways the church can address this issue.

First, and most importantly, we should strive to raise up new instrumentalists. Encourage and equip young people in your congregation to learn an instrument and use their gifts in the context of the local church.

Whether it’s piano lessons or taking up a band instrument, we need to do all we can to train these students for the future. Our churches should be incubators for raising up church worship musicians.

For many years, the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina has invested in budding musicians through the All-State Youth Choir to develop singers. Now, this summer, we are offering a new Student Worship Academy to train high school worship leaders. This experience gives students a week of intense instruction in instruments and technologies to prepare them to lead in worship in their local churches and beyond.

The second way the church can address the problem is to utilize technologies to fill in the gaps where we do not have adequate instrumentalists. Whether your church uses a piano and/or organ or a band-driven approach, a number of great options are highlighted on this blog.

In response to this shortage of church instrumentalists, we have developed a new seminar titled “Worship with Limited Musician Resources.” This new training showcases the many possibilities for churches lacking instrumental accompanists.

Encourage the young people in your church to explore the musical gifts, talents and abilities that God has given them. Don’t be afraid to utilize technology and other resources to aid in your worship services until the day we have adequate musicians prepared to lead our churches.

In all we do, may our worship be an outward expression of the glory that is due to our Lord.

About The Author

Kenny Lamm

Worship Consultant for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. A frequent worship clinician and guest worship leader. Extensive work in worship renewal in several Asian countries.


  1. Steve Reid

    I wonder if you could comment on mentoring. Many years ago I sang in an Anglican cathedral choir. Of course, it was very old-school. They had a superb organist, and also an “organ scholar” who played when the organist was away. When the organist retired, the “scholar” took over – almost seamlessly, since they already knew the job backwards and forwards – and a new scholar was appointed. I saw that system go through three changes.

    I know our attempts at nurturing junior talent, at “training up your replacement” have often been quite successful. They’re also a good way of revitalizing worship, since younger people have their own ideas on what “contemporary” means, often different from us “old fogies”.

    Any comments?

  2. Robert M Caldwell

    Have I gotten worse? Since the 1960s I have had no problem at all, playing piano and organ,
    later on becoming a choral conductor and voacl coach. While I can play solos…like Bach Works…I have always
    been known as an Accompanist. As you point out, this put me in demand.

    I often wondered, how church people were so trusting in hiring me just on my word or at most
    with minimal playing one or two things.

    N-O-W…….what IS this with having half the church interviewing me, seemingly skeptical
    of my skills without proof, when they have my résumé of having played in both Europe and America?
    I was resident accompanist and coach at the Salzburger Musikschulwerk.
    Actually it should be a good thing…and it IS…but I couldn’t have gone THAT far south.
    Am I being interviewed for a top notch executive position in Business???

    Furthermore…what IS this with playing jazz ? Are some churches that offer traditional fare
    becoming jazzy? How multidimensional must one be? I can see, how a Classically trained
    musician might not be trained in praise band stuff, but JAZZ at Traditional Services…???

    ARE accompanists REALLY few and far between? You look at concert programs, and accompanists abound.
    If I were to show up at a choral organization and ask to try out as an accompanist, I’d be fenced out,
    because that organization already HAS an accompanist…some “shortage”.

    It used to relatively easy to play for choruses. Not to brag, but my school teachers thought it was
    “genius” work to sightread. Not too many years later all of a sudden a barrage of super-talented
    conductors appeared out of nowhere, and I thanked the Lord that I COULD sightread, as those
    “fantastic” conductors made me feel, I had B-E-T-T-E-R be able to sightread.
    I COULDN’T have gotten that mediocre THAT fast, or COULD I have gone south?

    I DO SAY, lots of those conductors DID take to me and stuck with me, many being very kind.
    My early hero, Leonard Bernstein, encouraged me by osmosis to FEEL the music.
    Hey…now THERE is an “oldie” nobody questioned ! “Lenny” was The Man !
    As with Ballplayers, musicians can have heroes, true?

    Do you want more church musicians? Again,..not to brag…but if yours truly, who has done
    such stuff on two continents encounters such modern skepticism, how are those with
    just a few years of experience going to succeed?

    I remember reading an article about some organist, a woman, who wanted to retire.
    I’m a bit shaky on the exact location…Baltimore area, maybe(!?)…but she recalled
    years before, when she was first hired. She admitted to not knowing, if she could
    be any good, but she did super for all these years.
    NOW…in trying to find a successor she stated that things have not even gotten
    to the interview stage.

    One of Jesus’ Parables tells of a man, who forgave a man with an enormous debt.
    Later on, that schnook in turn would not even forgive a small debt of another man.
    I’m sure, you know the story.

    Analogously…how many, like that woman, were given their opportunities,
    only not to be so kind to someone later on?
    We then WONDER, W-H-Y there are NOT more musicians.

    Sorry for the length…….let me add this. American Guild of Organists,
    I found, COULD be good and maybe once was is all too often way
    to stuffy for ones coming along with a WHO-you-know attitude.

    To those I would suggest, they are insecure. I can name one of whom
    we’ve all heard, who was NEVER in the A.G.O. Hmmm, you think…
    couldn’t have been any good…hehehe!
    Be careful at whom you’re laughing, because N-O-N-E of you
    could come C-L-O-S-E to playing like him:
    Johann Sebastian Bach !!!!!!! 🙂
    Hey, stuffed shirts! If ANY of you could play like THAT “flunkie”,
    you may “throw the first stone”. Be CAREFUL of your attitude!!!
    Bach wasn’t even a member of A.G.O., BUT THAT DIDN’T STOP HIM.

  3. Randy Cross

    A Worship Arts summer camp is an excellent way to train up new musicians. Check out and for more details!


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