One out of every five Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) churches has struggled, in recent years, to find someone who could play the piano.

Most evangelical church music is played by unpaid volunteers. That means the options for instruments on Sunday morning are limited by the skill and knowledge in a given congregation. While “worship wars” have sometimes raged over particular styles or theological evaluations of this or that instrument, the actual available choices are limited by what people know how to play—and, hopefully, play well.

Will Bishop, associate professor of church music and worship at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, asked about congregational musical ability in the first large-scale survey of SBC music in almost 100 years. He found a few harps. A few trombones. And not as many drums or guitars as you might think.

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