paying musicians?

image Jan Springer from North Metro Church wrote me a couple months ago.  His question:  What about paid musicians?  Where do you draw the line?  Jan, I’ll give you my thoughts but let me first apologize for the delay in writing.  Bad Blogger :>

I can’t speak for others, but I can speak for what we do in exchange (and at MCC).  We do not pay our musicians.  Fortunately, we don’t have to.  I do not mean that to sound arrogant.  We just have a group of musicians who love to play.  Seriously, I think some of them would pay to play.  Hmm, maybe I should try that :>

Here are some additional thoughts:

  • I can see paying a worship leader if you are requiring substantial time, have high expectations, and warrant many hours per week.
  • Get a clear answer on why you pay musicians.
  • If you pay one musician, you have to pay them all.
  • If you pay musicians, you should treat them like employees (or contractors at least).  What I mean is this: you are paying for a service.  If they don’t deliver or show up on time, that should be reflected in their compensation.
  • The worship leader goes from leader of volunteers to manager of contract employees.  No thanks.   
  • It could muddy the waters for serving.  Where do you draw the line between serving and a paid job?  Tough one to walk.  Why not pay nursery workers? 
  • Once you start, it is probably hard to stop.

I know some churches that feel they need to hire musicians.  They may be small or young and need to hire each Sunday.  Others may be large and want to run it like a business with union and/or professional musicians. 

All that to say this:  If I had to use paid musicians, I would set an end date and keep expectations as clear as possible.

Other thoughts????

photo by zzzack

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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5 thoughts on “paying musicians?

  1. All I have to say is the guys and gals I heard every Sunday at Exchange are definitely not playing for free. Maybe they’re not paid with the dollar, euro, pound or shilling, but in that Heavenly currency called blessings! I would absolutely pay to listen to em play! You guys rock!

  2. We definitely don’t pay our musicians. We don’t use session players. If they aren’t accountable to a Connection Group(small group) leader, they aren’t united in vision and purpose, then how can they lead us in worship? They may be able to lead in music, but not in worship. I think you nailed it Scot with why would we elevate serving in music above serving in other areas of the church. I make sure my musicians know this is a position of great sacrifice, humility and service. It’s an honor to be a part of. I ask a lot of them and make sure to pray for them and support them. We will purchase strings, drum heads, try to offer some support for lessons, things like that. But unless you’re on staff you aren’t getting paid for service.

  3. Kyle says “We definitely don’t pay our musicians….unless you’re on staff you aren’t getting paid for service.”

    I am a worship leader and i think it’s wrong and sad that churches aren’t willing to “pay a workman worthy of his/her wages”.

    If the pastor of a church expects to pay himself for a service then why not the worship leader who is filling in for the weekend of not on staff? I can understand a small church that doesn’t have money but some of the bigger church don’t even compensate.

    would you pay a contractor to come in the church and fix up a wall or something that needed to get done? why is a worship leader treated different if he or she is fulfilling a need.

    you speak of being paid as almost ungodly or wrong.

    Short Story:
    There is a church near by that i attended for awhile. Their worship leader left for some reason or another. They have fill-ins every week. One of the more regular fill-ins (Tod: not real name)
    leads there quite a bit.
    This church is a very large church and can easily caugh up a couple hundred bucks for someone who is:

    talented = practices his craft/gift on a regular basis and is now very good at what he does.
    Preparation = picking songs and arrangements for the type of team to play that week.
    Team practice = This is time away from family to usually 3-4 hours.
    Services = getting to church early to re-practice and play for 2 sometimes 3 services.
    Strings = these cost money and if your a worship leader with sweaty hands (like many of us out there) then those strings are ruined that day. and new ones are needed weekly.
    Gas = gas prices are higher than ever, it’s a cost.

    This church pays him 0. He is a man who lost his job recently and is barely making it. trying to provide for his wife and 2 kids.
    But the church has a need and they assume (like many churches) it should be done for free.

    sad sad sad is what it is. You have a need that needs to be filled but your not willing to ask if we have a need. It’s not our job to communicate our need to you out of the blue to make you feel like you need to compensate us. It shouldn’t even be a question in my opinion.

    We’re not talking about serving orphan kids off the streets of Africa here. That is a need that is easily understood as service free. Needing a worship leader is a different story.

    Let’s face it, as “shallow” this may sound to you. If you didn’t have a musician or musicians to lead the church in “worship” there would be no people there! that means no tithers, that means a second job for you as pastor…Treat us as you would treat yourself. You expect to pay yourself, we should be compensated as well.
    This is not to say that “we” are the backbone of the church or that “without us, your nothing” All i am saying is it’s not a BAD thing to want to get paid and in my opinion we should be compensated in most cases.

    “A workman is worthy of his wage”. Don’t down play it because you’d like something for FREE.
    We as worship leaders aren’t rich people, we struggle to is the area of finances. Perhaps consider our need.

    CLOSING:
    Money is a very weird thing when it comes to worship leader. “We” will usually never let you know how we are really feeling. You just assume we are all ok with it. TRUST me you’ll never know how we are really feeling. It’s treated as a wrong thing to want money for leading so we just hold it in. Do us a favor don’t ask us if we are need of money ( we’ll take the humble approach and tell ya “awww shux, i do it unto Lord”). Just follow the verse in the word and pay a workman a worthy wage.

    and please realize it’s not “LESS unto the Lord” to be compensated for the work put in.

    Thanks
    WL_T