The Kingdom of God is Like a Jazz Band

Last night, I went to hear Klüver’s Big Band and Cecilie Norby, performing as part of Aarhus International Jazz Festival. The concert was awesome, as I’m sure the live recording will be.

On my way back, I came to wonder if the image of jazz music could be applied to how church should be.

A feature that is more prominent in jazz than in most other genres is the celebration of the improvised solo. Isn’t this selfish, some might rightfully ask? No, I don’t believe it is. No jazz musician can do without a band, and however great the solo or the soloist, it is always best if backed by a strong band. Also, every soloist knows his place; in a jam-session it is perceived as rude if anybody abuses his position or not stands down in due time. When he does finish his solo, applause follows, and it’s time for the next solo, or back to full band.

With talented musicians, this amounts to great jazz in the art of improvisation. Knowing your place in the band, playing your solos, playing up to the other’s solos, and all the time being more interested in the end result than your own position. It’s all about making music and having a good time.

I love classical music, too, but I think I envision a church that is more like a jazz band than a choir. A church that allows for improvisation, for many different soloists, and for being happy about each others’ achievements. A church that comes together for jam session because they are passionate about the end result—living for God. And last, but not least, a church that has a good time doing it.


Author: Kenneth Mollerup Birch

Living north of Copenhagen, Denmark. MA in Information Science. Interests include communication, internet, sociology, language, politics, religion, theology, travel, music, and food.

4 thoughts on “The Kingdom of God is Like a Jazz Band”

  1. Hi –

    Hey – great post. I used to be a classical violinist and I liked playing in orchestras. It’s a lot like what you described. And it is a lot like the church. Everyone has gifts and we all work together. No one is more important than anyone else and we’ll all here to glorify God and enjoy him forever. Amen!!

    If you get a chance, stop by our blog at We talk about similar issues and would love to hear your experience.



  2. Thank you for your comment, Lisa. Fortunately many types of music can involve some of the same characteristica mentioned. I sing in a classical choir myself, and we definitely both have a good time and are happy for each others’ achievements. But improvisation is hardly present–which was partly why I chose jazz for my analogy. It may be different in an orchestra, I’m not certain. But of course, any analogy has its limits.

  3. Cool analogy Kenneth! Jazz itself owes its evolution partly to the church- christianity and the whole idea of being in community.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.