Five Favorite and Five Least Favorite Instruments Used in Worship Services


Jonathan Howe told me I was opening a can of worms by conducting this Twitter poll.

He was right.

Still, I wanted to hear from churchgoers what their favorite and least favorite instruments are. Some of the responses were anticipated. Many were not.


  1. Piano — Piano is not only a favorite; it is one of the few instruments that did not also get mentioned as a least favorite.
  2. Acoustic Guitar — This instrument was a clear second preference.
  3. Organ — This instrument was also the number one least favorite. There seemed to be a clear generational divide here.
  4. Violin — The violin and the organ were only one vote apart.
  5. Cello — This choice surprised me. Maybe it should not have surprised me.

Least Favorite

  1. Organ — Wow. There were very strong negative sentiments here. One person wrote, “I will ask God for permission to haunt my wife if she allows an organ at my funeral.”
  2. Tambourine — I was surprised at the negative sentiment here. Apparently, many churchgoers believe this instrument to be the choice of those not musically inclined.
  3. Drums — Again, there was mostly negative sentiment here, but the reasons for the negativity varied.
  4. Handbells — Handbells did not get one positive vote.
  5. Banjo — I can’t remember the last time I heard a banjo in a worship service. Maybe there’s a reason for that.

I was also fascinated to see the “one-vote wonders,” those instruments noted by only one person.

  • One vote wonders, favorite: Hammer dulcimer; mandolin; and ukulele.
  • One vote wonders, least favorite: Oboe; jazz flute; whistle; kazoo; harmonica; recorder; tuba; shofar; cowbell; accordion; chimes; and saxophone.

I bet this discussion will be fun. Let me hear from you.

Posted on January 11, 2016

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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