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Should church musicians be paid??

Discussion in 'Worship Service Players' started by GuitarSmith, Jul 10, 2003.

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  1. GuitarSmith

    GuitarSmith TDPRI Member

    Jul 3, 2003
    Memphis, TN
    I am wondering if you guys think church musicians who play regularly and commit a significant portion of time each week to the worship team should be paid?

    Some questions to consider for discussion/thought:

    1. Does the regular church pianist/organist get paid? Why or why not?

    2. Why should a pastor be paid? Why should a secretary, janitor, etc. be paid? Why should/shouldn't a children's Sunday School teacher be paid?

    3. Are there Biblical principles to guide our thoughts? What has the church done historically?

    I ask this question because as the church uses contemporary praise music, the demand for highly skilled musicians is increasing. Some worship teams prepare 8 to 10 songs per week, spending a total of 8 to 10 hours in rehearsal, preparation, maintenance of equipment, etc. Should this be a "freebie" done "for the Lord"?

    For example, should a church use a decent/just OK guitarist who plays for free (for Jesus) or should it pursue a better qualified, semi-pro or pro guitarst who should be compensated (and who will greatly enhance the quality of the music). Let's face it, shoddy music done by sincere people is still shoddy. The Psalms call for "skilled" musicians/vocalists. Any thoughts?

  2. Brad

    Brad Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 17, 2003
    Tacoma, WA
    Not me!

    I don't know about others, but I gladly give my time each week to have the honer of being able to worship my Father. Again, I consider it an honer! We have 12 to 14 members in our worship team. Most of them put in a lot more time each week than I do and no one gets ( or expects ) to be paid. Of course, we are fairly small...maybe 200 to 250 and it may different in a big church..but still, I would not expect to get paid. The pastor..of course he should be paid. THis is his job. The tithes and offereings are his only means of support. I only wish we were able to support him better. He does not make enough compared to what he puts out. Again, I feel blessed to be able to contribute in such a small way.

  3. Matt Plescher

    Matt Plescher Tele-Holic

    Mar 17, 2003
    West Michigan
    some small stuff

    my church supplies batteries, and has talked about supplying strings. I don't need to be paid though. It would seem like work then.


  4. PraiseCaster

    PraiseCaster Poster Extraordinaire

    I personally am totally humbled, and blessed, that God chose me, the least of the brethren, to offer up this magnificent sacrifice of Praise to Him!

    God GAVE me a gift of music, and I gladly, and with a joyful heart, offer it up as a Sacrifice of Praise and Worship to him. That, and the Joy that I get out of it EVERY SINGLE TIME I PLAY FOR HIM, is such a bountiful harvest in itself, I couldnt imagine getting paid for what I do. For example, last night it was so blazzingly hot inside the Sanctuary, I was absolutely soaked in sweat from the heat! It was just pouring off my body like a water fall! But it was such a bold time of Worship, it just didnt matter. It was one of the best times of Prasie and Worship that I think we've ever had!

    Now, I feel, and it is just 'my humble opinion', I think that the Worship Leaders should be a part time employee of the Church. Why? The Worship Leader spends probably twice the time that we put into it. He also acts as an under-Shepherd, or Pastor's assistant: a lot of times, my Worship leader helps councel those in the Worship Team (I know first hand!), organizes the music, the practice, and helps to keep us all motivated and Joyful! I'm really blessed to have such a great Worship Leader, and he is becoming one of my best friends too!

    So, when I add it all up, I'm already overpaid as it is! thank God the IRS hasnt figured out how to tax the Joy that we recieve from it!

  5. JDO

    JDO Tele-Holic

    Mar 17, 2003
    Pittsboro, NC
    i get the whole idea of figuring that it's feasible for ministry to be "free" but there were paid workers in the bible. paul wrote,
    i think this is pretty clear about paying ministers of various sorts. paul also talks many times about people supporting him financially. yes he was a tent maker, but he had support from churches just as missionaries today to so they don't have to focus on making enough to eat and can focus on their ministry.

    the question then comes, where do musicians fit into this?

    well, they didn't have church praise bands in paul’s day (that i know of). they also didn't have youth ministers or adolescence for that matter - so that could be another issue. but i believe in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in all things, love. and this is definitely not an essential (good discussion but not pertinent to salvation).

    personal opinion - i personally don't care if a musician is paid. if a church is big enough, has the income, they see it as enough of a need in their particular ministry to have "top quality" music and therefore needing the musicians to focus a certain amount of time on it - then that's there prerogative.

    good question. thanks for asking it. it started my wheels turning, and who knows, maybe tomorrow i'll have a different opinion. we'll see.

  6. GuitarSmith

    GuitarSmith TDPRI Member

    Jul 3, 2003
    Memphis, TN
    We can see that a number of you find that the joy and blessing of ministering to others and serving God is enough "compensation." I suppose any ministry function which demanded a significant amount of time (regularly), such as pastor, musician, secretary, etc. could be done "for the Lord" (unpaid) -- a professional painter might do some painting work free of charge for his church as an offering to the Lord. (He could also charge them as well -- it's his vocation or part-time job). As mentioned above, the Bible promotes paying people for work and condemns not paying (James 5).

    Paul the Apostle mentioned to the Corinthians that he had the "right" to be paid but was willing to forgoe that privilege ("liberty") in order not to hinder the spread of the Gospel (1 Cor. 8 ff) -- there were plenty of huckster public speakers (rhetoricians) and philosophers taking advantage of the common folks in Paul's day and he decided not to provide any opportunity to be lumped in with those guys... Maybe some church leaders should do the same??

    My point: It's fine not to be paid for ministry work if one is willing to exercise his liberty and forgoe his right to be paid (for whatever reason).


    DADGAD Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 18, 2003

  8. Wahwax

    Wahwax Tele-Meister

    May 19, 2003
    I think it comes down to the size of the congregation.

    The larger the church, the more of a demand there will be on the staff.

    A pastor may be willing to lead a small congregation for no pay and keep down a full time job to provide for his family. However the larger the congregation grows, the more time that it will take to tend to their needs. So the pastoring becomes more of a fulltime job.

    The same goes for the rest of the staff. Office help, music director, musicians, teachers, video and sound staff. If they can do their jobs with a couple hours a week invested they will usually gladly donate their time. However as the congregation grows, more is asked of these members too. The office help will have more bills to pay, more bulletins to print, more calls to answer. The teacher will be expected to present a more formal lesson and more time is required to prepare. The musician will be expected to present a more professional song service and more practice would be required.

    As each of these positions moves from a couple hours a week into a part time or fulltime job, I don't see any reason these people shouldn't be paid to compensate them for their time.

  9. Brad

    Brad Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 17, 2003
    Tacoma, WA
    Well said Praisecaster & DADGAD! ( and others )

    I would guess it depends on how much time your putting in. Our worship leader does put in more time than the rest and I don't know if she's paid or not.....but if she is, I would have no problem with that. I put in about 10 hours a week, pay for my own equipment, strings, ect., and help others out with their instruments. I just feel blessed to be in a position to do this because it has not always been the case. People have been there for me when I needed help and I am only very happy to be able to give back. It's like planting a sprouts, continues to grow and take off in a direction of it's own. Case in point,
    ( this is a bit off the subject, sorry ) I purchsed an electric gutiar for a young boy at church who I have been giving lessons to. His dad plays ( beautiful ) keyboards, sings and shares in leading worship at our church with his wife who sings. They have a struggle financially with 3 kids, mortgage...etc. I bought a strat copy cheap, fixed it up for him. I mentioned it on this board and said I was trying to find him an amp. A TDPRI brother ( thanks again Wally! ) read the post and offered to send him an amplifier. How cool is that! Wally does not know me from Adam, ( except from the TDPRI ) but trusted enough to send an amp all the way from Texas to Tacoma. Lucas loves the gutiar and amp and his playing has improved ten fold as he now has a good instrument to learn on and he's so excited at having an electric and an amp that he practices more. I can't wait for the young un's to start their own worship team. I know they will not expect any money! It's cool cause about 8 of the youngsters are so excited about it and talk about it all the time. Again, off the subject, sorry!

  10. GuitarSmith

    GuitarSmith TDPRI Member

    Jul 3, 2003
    Memphis, TN
    JDO wrote:
    "Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain," and "The worker deserves his wages." I Timothy 5:17-18

    I use that verse on my wife whenever I'm thinking about a new piece of gear. Hehe....

    That's great! I belly-chuckled out loud! I've been buying guitar gear like a "dumb ox" (Thomas Aquinas' nickname) this summer and unfortunately my "wages" from guitar work never balance the books!

    It can be kinda fun (the Puritans did something akin to this) to use Bible verses in a silly way -- I like the first clause of Colossians 2:21 placed on the AC thermostat on a hot July night -- God says in His Word, "Do not touch..." Might be used when the kiddies put sticky Kool Aid fingers on your Strat's rosewood fingerboard!

  11. tom grossheider

    tom grossheider Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

    Mar 4, 2003
    Mokena, IL
    We have a full-time staff worship leader/pastor, as the "job" is indeed a full time committment. We have volunteers in the department to help administratively, and all of the musicians are volunteers. The band leader (and bass player) and choir director is also on staff as full time janitor / maintenance man at the church. His wife plays piano and keys also, and daughter plays sax and clarinet. However, for special Easter and Christmas musical events, we need extra musicians so we hire them to cover expenses for rehearsals, etc. Some just give the money back because they believe that it is their ministry. Personally, I agree with what has been said previously, for me it is where God has called me to share the gifts and passion for worship that He has given me. God forbid that I should ever think that this is just "another gig". If I ever start thinking that way I hope He moves me out. All things must be done with excellency, but also to bring along new musicians that have a desire to serve God in this capacity. I played with another church Wed evening and the bass player never did get the rhythm down on several tunes, but it all went well and I believe God was pleased with our efforts. Let it all be done for His glory.

  12. MLT

    MLT Tele-Meister

    GuitarSmith: You seem you've made up your mind

    The only thing I can say (as a semi-pro player who serves for free) is that every time I've obsessed about what someone else is getting paid, and whether or not that's fair... well, for me, it's always been an indication that my attitude ain't right. Again, that's speaking for me.

    I have a day job. I'm profoundly grateful that it allows me to play music strictly for love. That goes for secular bands too. I get to pick my spots and turn down anything that doesn't feel right or satisfy in some deep way.

    If the folks at church knew how much I dig playing for them, they could charge me to play and I'd probably pay up.

    Be blessed!

  13. GuitarSmith

    GuitarSmith TDPRI Member

    Jul 3, 2003
    Memphis, TN
    Re: GuitarSmith: You seem you've made up your mind

    I'm just curious...what do think I have concluded?


    RIFF WOLF Tele-Meister

    Jul 9, 2003
    Pennsylvania USA

    all musicians should be paid! if one feels the Lord's blessing is enough he/she can give it back.

  15. MLT

    MLT Tele-Meister

    Re: GuitarSmith: You seem you've made up your mind

    Well, the content of your posts seems to lean heavily toward the idea that musicians should be paid. I don't necessarily disagree. I think it is one of those things that is not inherently right or wrong across the board. It depends on the situation.

    However, it does look to me as if you are propigating your own opinion more than asking for insight from others. That seems, err... "less than completely honest" to me. Apologies if I have misread the situation.

  16. GuitarSmith

    GuitarSmith TDPRI Member

    Jul 3, 2003
    Memphis, TN
    I guess that surprises me. I would have thought that you concluded that it was fine NOT to be paid based on what I had written. I'm not sure how it looks like I'm propagating my opinion more than asking for insight from others -- I thought there had been some good interaction and input -- no apology necessary, I guess I would prefer having an explicit opinion challenged, rather than what appears to be "reading between the (my) lines". At any rate, thanks, though, for your input.

  17. goofball

    goofball TDPRI Member

    Jun 13, 2003
    I'm going to come down firmly on both sides of this issue.

    If I'm playing in church, it's because I love to - I enjoy the worship, the fellowship and the music. Period. It's a priveledge, and an offering to God.

    On the other hand sometimes your services and talent are requested for special things - events and services that are out of your way, that you have to make time for. Those should be (but almost never are in my experience) paid for.

    If you factor in the amount of time put in to rehearsal and then the astronomical amount of time put in to learning an instrument, musicians' skills are exremely undervalued.


    RIFF WOLF Tele-Meister

    Jul 9, 2003
    Pennsylvania USA

    i agree

  19. leecow

    leecow TDPRI Member

    May 3, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    ... both ...

    Time, sweat and talent spent rehearsing the worship band, leading worship and playing for other functions at my home church is all on a volunteer basis.

    When invited to fill the guitar seat at other churches I graciously accept whatever token payment is offered and somewhat expect such an offer to be made.

  20. Jim W

    Jim W Friend of Leo's

    Mar 17, 2003
    Should musicians get paid?

    Our church has paid musicians and non paid musicians. The paid musicians are the organist for the tradition services and the music director (piano) for the Praise Team. The organist also works with the choir. These are part-time positions for both. Everyone else is a volunteer.

    They play for the love of the Lord and playing, but don't have the responsibility to make sure that the service occurs. I don't think one would consider paying an individual that is a public school teacher to teach a Sunday school class.

    The two muscians get paid inpart because they have to be there on Sunday (or make sure that there is a substitute)- it is their responsibility that the music part of the service takes place (the Pastor does the other stuff). Thus, these two individuals take care of scheduling, rehearsing and what ever (i.e., dealing with difficult people which often includes the Pastor) to make sure the service happens. Assuming that you don't have a full-time church musician(s), I think these responsibilities is the part that requires pay.

    Our congregation is blessed with good musicians or at least musicians that play within their ability.

    I do think that musicians should be paid for funerals and weddings. Playing requires practice which requires the expenditure of time.



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