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To pay…or not to pay?

I’ve determined a new truth in life…bring up the subject of whether or not to pay worship leaders and church musicians in church…and you open a huge can of worms!

A few days back, we asked for your opinions on whether or not we should pay worship leaders and whether or not we should pay church musicians.  The results were divided amongst our readers and yielded responses like this:

“I believe that musicians in church should not be paid. this is part of your worship to the lord, consider it an addition to your tithes”

“if a musician gets to use his talent for the kingdom full time/partime like a secretary or else, I say YES!!!! it’s a blessing. It’s a calling like any other in the church.”

“Any musician who serves a church with faithful, competent, hard work deserves that church’s stewardship; indeed, this stewardship is an important expression of the church’s commitment to its own ministry.”

“No. I’ve never been paid. The organist always is. I suspect I missed the boat a couple of centuries ago.”

I dare say that we could poll a million people on the issue and be split almost 50/50 on the issue.  What seems to be important to me are some of the reasons why we feel one way or another.  I want to take a couple of days and talk, in depth, about the subject.  Today, I want to breakdown – or sum up – some of the reasons why many of our respondents disagreed with paying musicians and/or worship leaders.

One of the biggest notions that seemed to prevail against paying musicians and leaders – is the notion that it is our duty to serve…and not a reason to be payed.

This is a statement and concept I agree with wholeheartedly.  I have maintained for years that Paul was a tent-maker by trade and was a preacher because of his calling and duty to do so.  I think that this tent-making concept, however, does not become the disqualifier for being paid.  I’ll address that in a moment…

“I believe that musicians in church should not be paid. this is part of your worship to the lord, consider it an addition to your tithes”

Sadly, I have a strange feeling that those who hold this feeling about the worship leader or church musician does not feel the same way about a pastor.  Should a pastor of a church not see what he does as a calling and offer his sermons each week as an “addition to tithes”?

In my opinion – the difference becomes accepting the fact that you are called to your craft and doing it without the expectation of compensation.  If I am called to serve as a leader or musician, then I should do so.  I should never decide on whether or not to serve based on whether or not I will be paid.  In the same respect, neither should a preacher/pastor/minister.

You see, my acceptance of serving without pay does not mean that I should not accept pay – or that I should not be paid.  For this respect – there is no difference in a serving pastor or a serving musician.

Thoughts?  I truly welcome your comments below – tomorrow, we will look further at scriptural relevancy behind paying those leading us.

Jason Whitehorn

Owner, Chief Visionary at got worship? Media
Jason Whitehorn is a worship leader/pastor, Christian songwriter, mentor, public speaker and Christian music promoter/publicist. Jason's articles have been published in both online and National publications and has broadcast in both radio and television - reporting and anchoring for affiliates such as ABC, CNN, and CNN Headline News. Jason is the Redemptive Arts Pastor at Grace Church in the Indianapolis-Metro area.

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3 thoughts on “To pay…or not to pay?”

  1. Stephen says:

    The way I look at it is that you’re not paying a worship leader to lead worship. You’re paying for the time it takes to set aside to lead worship. In other words, I won’t lead worship better in proportion to what I’m paid. I’ll lead worship as best I can every time, money or no money.
    Money lets me set aside time for a specific project. When I prepare for one service, then that means that I’m not going to spend time doing other things. The result will be a better prepared event. It’s appropriate to be compensated for the time set aside to lead worship. It’s not appropriate for money to directly determine your heart in actually leading worship. That’s the difference in my book.

  2. Chris Deeves says:

    I think you’re getting warmer. The idea of getting paid is more about the amount of involvement and prep we expect and demand from a person – be it the music guy or the teaching guy. Churches pay Pastors because a Pastor needs to devote the time to preparation and can’t usually hold another job. Sometimes churches can not pay the music guy becuase he is able to prepare and still have another job – but it all depends on their expectations and deamnds on that music guy. The more they want – the more they will have to be willing to compensate – and possibly pay them.
    To take things farther – paying each person on the team – well – that’s a matter of opinion which I can’t comment on – it all relates to my first point I guess – the more invovled and the more deamnds placed the more people are going to need compensated in some way – $ or otherwise.
    At our church – I am the paid organizer of all things music, and I have an assistant (also plays music with us) – and all the other people are people who serve without getting any $.

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