While music has always been among the most important elements in black Baptist churches, there has been little uniformity in practice, largely because local congregations depended mostly on pastoral leadership and lacked professional directors of music. Recent years have seen the introduction of instruments other than the piano and organ and the prevalence of popular music styles. There is a new emphasis on the other arts as well, as reflected in colorful clergy and choir vestments and in the introduction of drama.
From its beginnings, worship in the black Baptist church centered in the sermon. The sermon was the crescendo in the worship experience. The content focused upon the hereafter and upon a God who gave his people hope in the midst of their despair and the mundane experiences of this life.