Saxophone in Christian Music?

Is there a place in modern Praise & Worship church bands for a saxophone?

My saxophone experience in a church begins at an independent fundamental Baptist church in about 1976. I played the Gaither song “There’s Something About That Name” with a piano accompaniment. After the service a well intentioned church member stopped me and said “I was going straight to hell” for playing the instrument of the devil in the Lord’s house”. I was devastated at the time by this comment.

The Bible teaches us that we are supposed to use the gifts and talents that we have been given to glorify the Lord. As recently as the past couple of years we have searched for a new church home where I could use my God given talent on the saxophone. I was amazed to find out that their is still some predujice against the saxophone in a church praise band. I was basically told by one music minister that the band could only accept guitars,drums and keyboard. I was told by another music minister that I would have to join the church and attend a small group for six months and then “maybe” I could be a part of the praise band.

How often do we hear the saxophone on Christian radio? For that matter how often do we hear the saxophone in current pop music? The point is that we don’t hear it very often. Since music ministers don’t hear it on the radio, the lessor experienced music ministers don’t have the wisdom or experience to realize that the saxophone could be a valuable addition to the team.

Some people say that the saxophone expressive capabilities come closer than any other instrument in emulating the human voice. I happen to agree with this statement.

What role should the saxophone have in a praise band? I have seen and been part of a horn section that played various horn stabs in songs. I am currently using the saxophone in a manner similar to a lead guitar. Sometimes I am playing a solo. Most of the time I am “putting mud in the cracks”. By this I mean that I am using my jazz training to add filler notes in spaces where the vocalist is not singing or I am adding harmony notes to what the vocalists are singing.  I am playing as the Holy Spirit is leading.

Three of my favorite saxophonists who were or are also Christians are John Coltrane, Kirk Whalum and Greg Vail. Check out the following videos:

Are you a sax player in your church’s band? If yes, how is the saxophone used? What thoughts do you have on the use of the saxophone in a praise band?