What If Your Church Couldn’t Pay You?

Jimi Williams —  July 31, 2013

What If Your Church Couldnt Pay You?

What if your church couldn’t pay you for leading worship, would you do it anyway? Would there be a noticeable difference in the quality of the worship?

This question has generated much discussion here on the blog. Many of you have commented with strong opinions on the idea of getting paid to lead worship or any other type of ministry. Seems like this is a topic that needs to be fleshed out further.

The Bible doesn’t excessively expound on the topic of paid ministry; however, there are some verses which I believe shed light on this issue.

If you are a Christian, you are a minister.

Every one of us who follow Jesus is called to be a minister of the Gospel. Whether you are an insurance salesman, a starving musician, or the senior pastor, you are called to “go and make disciples of all nations”. Often, we draw a line between clergy and lay people that does not exist in Scripture. While our “job responsibilities” may look different, our common goal should be making Jesus famous wherever we work.

Work is a gift from God.

Often we portray our non-ministry jobs in a negative light. It’s something we endure so that we can do the things we really enjoy. This ought not be our attitude. Paul wrote to the Colossians, “Whatever you do, do it heartily as to the Lord and not as to men.” All work is sacred when we are doing it “as to the Lord”. God can move through your business dealings the same way he moves through a pastor on Sunday morning. Remember that Paul was bi-vocational for part of his ministry making tents.

“Don’t put a muzzle on an ox while it treads grain.”

Paul gave this advice to Timothy as a help to him. Timothy must have struggled like many of you with accepting pay for serving in the ministry. Paul also went on to say “Workers deserve their pay.” While God never wants us to serve Him BECAUSE OF MONEY, I believe Scripture is clear that it’s okay to receive pay if it’s available to you.

I think the consensus here is that we would ALL gladly serve the Lord in worship regardless of whether we ever receive a penny here on earth. Many churches are unable to pay their worship leaders and that’s okay. If a church is able to pay something, I believe it’s a worthy investment in the kingdom. The more time a leader devotes to the ministry, the more fruit we can expect.

This has been a very helpful and Christ honoring discussion. Let’s keep it going to encourage one another.

Jimi Williams

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Jimi is VP of Worship Resources for Capitol CMG Publishing, overseeing all Worship Together initiatives and resources. He also leads worship at his home church and at various events and conferences.

81 responses to What If Your Church Couldn’t Pay You?

  1. I guess I’m disturbed by the title of this blog. “What if your church couldn’t pay you.” That implies that paying worship leaders is far from the norm.

    I guess it’s nice if a church pays its worship leaders but my church is poor and we don’t even pay our pastor! In fact our pastors not only freely give their time but also invest their own money into the ministry. I hope some day that might not be the case but for now we need to invest in other things. We need a larger building (we now only have a storefront) and we need to invest in our food ministry, which is growing by leaps and bounds.

    While I love our worship team and will see about joining it when we have a large facility, right now we need to invest in the kingdom and not staff. I don’t want to belong to a mega church with a “professional presentation.” Instead of a slick presentation, I want to be where God’s spirit is.

    If some day we can pay staff I would love it but many, if not most, churches cannot do this.

  2. You guys get paid?

  3. this verse would somehow help. 1 Peter 5:2 (Good News Translation) “I appeal to you 2 to be shepherds of the flock that God gave you and to take care of it willingly, as God wants you to, and not unwillingly. Do your work, not for mere pay, but from a real desire to serve.”

  4. I would. I do it for God, not the money. God will provide somehow.

  5. For me, getting paid to do something I already love to do is just an added bonus. I am absolutely okay with not getting paid to do something I love, however, because then you cannot attach any strings to me and expect me to do it regularly. I find that when I don’t have expectations of me and when I can give because I want to and not because I’m obligated, I want to give more and put my heart and creativity in it. When the strings become attached and it is an obligation, I would feel like I am constantly looking over my shoulder and wonder if I am “meeting expectations” all the while missing out on focusing on getting in His presence and what God meant for me to experience in that endeavor. I have one venue that pays me and a friend of mine to lead worship. We usually go about once per month and that is not even expected of us. I am in a season of rest right now from leading worship, so we haven’t been there for several months. They did not get upset with us about that, but were very gracious and want it to be in God’s timing when God does call me back to lead again. Because of this freedom given to me, I want to give all that I can and don’t need to be paid for it. So in my personal opinion, I do not think that money needs to determine our willingness to serve, especially if our treasure is in Heaven. Serving out of a response to the great love of God and feeling His pleasure and joy over your life for doing so is priceless and is far better compensation than any paycheck.

  6. I’ve been the worship leader for my church now for almost 10 years off and on again. We are an extremely small congregation and therefore we have no way to pay the Worship leader. I did it because I love music and I learned to really love His people through it and it became an honor to lead them in worship and touch God. Ok I’m not saying I that I always felt this way, we had our struggles to, sometimes it felt like more then my fair share. But I grew a lot through it. So my answer is yes I would continue doing it… Keep honoring Him, isn’t that what its all about ???

  7. On one side, if churches did not have such high payroll then they would not require as much money to exist, so if you are not going to pay the worship leader then the pastor, assistant pastor, church secretary, custodian and the rest of their employees should all be volunteer too.

    As a part-time worship leader at my congregation I put in over 20 hours a week preparing for each Sunday. If we are going to do this with no pay that means we need to find a 40 hour week job to do on top of our ministry position and that leaves little time if any for any other aspect of our lives such as family. Churches have evolved into an employer and not just a place of worship. Some have taken this to an extreme. One such example is a well known recording artist/worship leader at one of the large churches in America is paid $500,000 a year to be worship leader and is only there when he is not performing.

    I guess it all comes down to the church’s expectations. Do you just want someone up there that picks out a few songs to sing or do you want a professional presentation where there has been considerable thought put behind every piece of the worship service. It all comes down to what the church wants for their congregation. Is it ok to minimize the importance of what a music minister does? Not for me it isn’t, but just like the rest of the world, there are many occupations that get paid far below what they deserve such as teachers, and society goes along with it.

    • Mark, I agree that how churches value worship will determine how they compensate it. Where there is little value placed on worship, often you’ll find volunteers who are undervalued. I saw a story about the beginning of Elevation Church in Charlotte. Early on, the church leadership drained their bank account to purchase a really nice sound system for their Sunday service. At the time, it seemed irresponsible to many, but looking at where the church is today and how great their worship ministry is, it was a bold statement of what they valued in their ministry.

  8. I think being paid for making music would be awesome but I have never been in that position. Currently I am deployed to Afghanistan. I came out here with the expectation that I would volunteer with the Chapel services. But didn’t know how busy I would be with my “day job”. I’m only four months into this deployment and I lead worship for two services and lead two guitar groups (opportunity for Soldiers to learn guitar and jam). Somehow it works with my busy schedule (I’m not sure how but it does). My point is that life it busy and if you are walking it God’s Will, He makes a way. If that requires you getting paid to lead worship then that’s what will happen. If it requires that He somehow make more hours in the day to take care of all your responsibilities (Job, family, worship leading) somehow that will happen too.

  9. This is always an interesting discussion. As a professional musician who has moved into church ministry as a vocation, I resent the attitude that “Christian musicians should always be willing to work / play for free.” This is an assumption I’ve dealt with my whole life – I’ve been in the church most of my life, and it has always been assumed that I would use my talents “for the Lord,” usually without compensation. That is well and good up to a point…but when you consider that I’ve put years of education (I have a Masters degree in music and am almost finished with a doctorate) and very literally THOUSANDS of hours of practice into honing my craft and becoming the best musician I possibly can be, it seems ludicrous to me that it is automatically assumed that I will play for a church or lead worship for free.

    I did that for many years, as a volunteer; what I have a problem with isn’t volunteering my time, as I’ve done it many times for many different churches or ministries. My issue is with the assumption by other Christians that I will always volunteer my time for the church because I am somehow obligated to do so. Music is my livelihood; I gig regularly, teach private lessons, and teach in a university. When my church offered to bring me on staff, it was with the understanding that they would be compensating me to use my giftedness and my education and experience as a teacher, conductor, and director to help the many volunteers in our ministry to develop their skills and talents. I currently work 30-35 hours a week for my church for a salary that meets about half of my family’s needs. I make up the difference by freelancing, teaching, and writing / arranging for others. There is NO WAY that I could put this amount of time into church music without being compensated.

    Do I feel called to do this? Yes. Do I feel bad accepting compensation for the work that I do? Absolutely not. I work very hard for the church (and what they pay me is about half what I would be making for the same work in a comparative professional or “industry” music job). The fact that they can compensate me allows me to be able to dedicate way more time to helping the other musicians (who are volunteers) develop their skills and abilities. I’m able to use my giftedness as a teacher and leader to help other Christian musicians (who are also called to minister, but not trained as I am) develop their callings.

    Yes, I am from a large church (around 2,000 attend weekly), but I am of the opinion that even smaller churches should pay their music leaders or directors if at all possible. If I were a Christian bricklayer, the average Christian person would never assume that I would lay bricks for the church for free just because I’m a Christian; yet that perspective seems predominant with musicians and artists (somehow, our profession / vocation is more “spiritual” or personal or something, and therefore has different rules than more “secular” jobs) – we are expected to give of our ability / vocation without compensation just because it’s the church and that’s how we ought to “use our gifts.”

    I know many professional musicians who do not minister in the church because of this mindset; it is something that every accomplished musician has to sort through for themselves. I don’t have a problem volunteering my time and talents – if it is my choice; if it is someone else’s assumption, that’s when I take issue.

    I realize that this may be controversial to some; however, I’ve spent years trying to sort out my feelings on this issue; this is where I’ve come down after much prayer and heart searching.

  10. I have been the music minister in our congregation for over 20 years as a volunteer. Nothing in this world could ever give me more fulfillment than to serve my God and Savior with the gifts with which he has blessed me. However, I can see both sides of this issue. I sometimes think how awesome it would be to be able devote all my time to God’s music ministry and leading His Church in worship and still be able to support my family. I pour my heart and soul into our praise band and our choir ministries now as a volunteer, and God is blessing each these ministries greatly. I am content, however, to serve in this capacity until God decides otherwise. I am here to serve Him first of all.

  11. David in Florida August 1, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    A church with solid teaching combined with worship that is relevant and intimate will grow. What starts as volunteer will almost certainly need to become paid as the time needed to effectively prepare and minister to team members grows to a point that will interfere with a volunteers regular vocation. The volunteer will eventually have to cheat something (home, job, church) in order to continue being effective. This can have extreme negative results in the volunteer and the churches life; in the most extreme but not uncommon circumstances, destruction of families, churches, ministry teams or even financial.

  12. I think and based on my experience, it is not necessary for a worship leader to be paid. It only depends on the capability of the church,their economic condition, and the culture. when it comes to quality, the desire of the worship leader to lead is important. these factors should be coherent, there are churches with great instruments but the worshipers are so lousy, there are churches lacking in musical instruments yet they can bring down the presence of the lord. God is looking at the heart not just on mere performance.

  13. I’ve led worship for almost 20 years out of love for my God and the people he has brought into the Sanctuary. It has been an incredible blessing and I have learned and grown so much in my ministry and in my Christian walk. I am now a paid staff member as I am responsible in other areas of church ministry besides worship.Although I am very grateful for this monetary blessing, my service to God is all to give back whatever little I can for the sacrifice made for me on the cross. It seems almost wrong to be paid but I do consider it a blessing as I know this is God’s way of meeting my needs..Every Sunday as I prepare to stand before the congregation, I consider it a privilege to to be chosen for such a high calling.

  14. Having served both full-time and part-time in church ministry as a music director, my view is that I am blessed and know that my vocation is in sacred music and leading worship. I never expect the full-time commitment from my volunteer musicians, but I do expect a high level of heart and attitude toward what we are doing and understanding for Whom we do it. I preach to my choir and band that God deserves more than our “it’ll do’s” and that a certain time and energy commitment is necessary out of their very busy lives in order to rise above mediocrity (musically and spiritually), and that we prepare so that we allow the Spirit of the Lord to first flow through us, and then out from us if we are to be worthy vessels of His Grace.

    My bottom line when working for a church is that I’m paid to dedicate my full-time efforts toward the church’s ministry; volunteers are not. There is a lot of upbeatness on my part, individual and group counseling, music lessons and encouraging of fellow music ministry members that must needs go on to help them drop their worldly cares at the door and come in to worship first as our small ensemble gets prepared each week, and then joyfully leads corporate worship on Sundays.

    So, should being paid or a volunteer leader make a difference in the quality of worship? Ideally, it should not. Realistically, however, if my full-time vocation is dedicated to the one path, it has my full-time attention. The same cannot be said, nor should be expected, of those with families and other full-time jobs in the “outside” world. What makes all the difference is whether or not the participants in question (full-time, part-time or volunteer) view their “music ministry” as merely a gig or as part of their spiritual calling.

    I have seen time and again how the Lord takes a squeaky, warbling voice coming out of a joy-filled musician who can only play three chords, and in the course of it moving out over the heads of the congregation, transforms the unspeakable sound of that loving heart into the most beauteous, emotion-moving message that somehow directly bypasses ears, being heard as exquisite worship leading by expectant listener’s hearts. Heart attitude makes all the difference; missing a few notes or being a little off-tune never does.

  15. I don’t get pay for leading worship and I don’t want to get pay. While it does take a lot of time, I have a full time job to support me and my family. Leading worship is my service to God and for His church. I do understand that, if this is a full time thing for you, you will need to get pay to support yourself and family financially. If you have another job, then it may not be necessary for you to get pay.

  16. As a full time property manager of the church/day care I am the only full time employee other than the pastor. The list of duties of my position are truely endless but I know that I am doing the work of God as His hands and feet. If I were to go outside of the church to work I would make more money but I dont think I would feel as fullfilled.
    I play in the praise band and have done so years before I was paid to work at the church. I love music and I love to play for God no matter what the location.
    I would accept being paid as the worship leader but not as a member of the band. But then again I would also lead worship and not expect any money. So i guees I would have to pray on it and let God lead me where He needs me to be.

  17. Interesting question and really great discussion! I’ve thought about this a lot over the years, as I’ve experienced it from both sides. I was a volunteer worship leader / service planner for about 15 years, and now I am in a paid position. The term “worship leader” doesn’t really cover a quarter of what I do, and it sounds like this is true for lots of people. We are worship leaders / website administrators / video editors / service planners / drama directors / counsellors / and countless other things. As far as “quality” goes, I would say that for me personally it is directly related to time. In a paid position, I am able to spend far more hours thinking about church – planning, meeting, editing, researching, writing out music, etc. And for me it definitely makes a huge difference to the quality of our services, and the quality of care I can give to others in the church. When I was working at another job full time, I was not able to spend half my day working on church related things, and it wouldn’t have been ethical for me to be thinking about church work while I was getting paid to do another job. I was only able to put in about 10-15 hours a week of volunteer time, which I still do above and beyond my paid hours. I am incredibly grateful to be paid, so that my time is freed up to devote myself fully to worship ministry.

  18. I am a praise leader on my 5th year now, and beginning in January of this year
    I started receiving compensation.
    Initially I rejected the offer, but the church leaders insisted.
    I rejected it initially because I didn’t want to praise for a fee.

    Questions like, what if eventually I can’t praise without being compensated?
    What if I start looking at something that I love as just a job/chore?
    It’s great to do something that you love as a life long career, but with that comes its
    own type of struggles. For me personally, I felt like this “job” would start to become
    a chore. Something that I just had to do to get my paycheck.

    I ended up taking the paycheck and struggled badly for a couple of months.
    My personal worship started to diminish and all I could think about was how if I didn’t
    improve the worship somehow, I wouldn’t be worth the money they’re
    paying me.
    I felt pressured to give the best “performance” I could.

    I kept looking at the problem rather than the solution.
    Eventually I had to go back to worshiping God personally instead of focusing on what kinds of expectations the church will have of me.
    I was doing fine before, so why am I hampering myself now just because I’m being paid?

    In short, regardless of the pay grade, if something like money will stumble you, don’t take it.
    If you’re doing it solely for the money, should you be leading worship?
    I want to eventually go into music full time; whether that’s for Praise or secular music and, I’m trying to use this experience as a learning process on how to worship while dealing with pressure and expectations that money brings.

    just wanted to share!

  19. keziah george May 12, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    worshipping together is good.
    to share our feeling,
    to know others and helping them with there problems.
    If someone is blessed enough to be in a paid position as a “worship leader”, they should be concerned not just with all the creative aspects of spiritual life but also with helping the body of the church find ways of worshipping through every minute of every day. I don’t think that paying them will make them “better” worship leaders.

  20. I’ve never been paid to lead worship and don’t necessarily envy those that do. However, I don’t disagree with it. If the worship life of a church is such that it demands full-time consideration, then of course remuneration would be appropriate. Would it make a difference to the quality of the worship? It SHOULDN’T! The quality of worship depends entirely on 1 thing: the hearts of the worshippers (“lead worshipper” included).

    What concerns me most is that no-one has mentioned any worship other than musical/sung worship….what about poetry, art, spoken word, dance, story-telling and almost anything else you can think of?. If God is worthy of our worship, we should be worshipping in every area of our lives – perhaps starting as simply as being the best Christian we can be in any situation. If someone is blessed enough to be in a paid position as a “worship leader”, they should be concerned not just with all the creative aspects of spiritual life but also with helping the body of the church find ways of worshipping through every minute of every day.

  21. as a worship leader, their are some churches gives honorary cash gift to who ever is leading worship, and i have also been offered such things, but as a Christian in love with Christ, i resent the fact that some worship leaders are paid to do so. its a calling not a profession.

    for me I will give it my all to lead worship without payment.

  22. Many small churches can’t afford to pay the worship team. I lead worship at my church, and all we had for the longest time was a lady on a piano, now we are using Fly worship. I have tried on many occasions to get at least a guitarist to help with our worship. The first and basically last question they ask is how much does your worship team pay? I just have to shake my head and pray for the church as a whole. Some people miss the point.

    • Hi Adrian,

      I have no idea where you’re based but if you aren’t a million miles away from the South East of the UK, but I would be happy to come and help out with worship from time to time.

      Let me know.

  23. I am amazed how many say musicians should not be paid. “We do it for God…WE do it for the Church.” We all have gifts the HE gave to us. Gifts HE gave so we can make a living. Should a Lawyer not get paid, Should a Teacher, a Doctor, a Plumber? If a Plumber is call to fix a problem, do you not pay him and tell him “It’s for God”/ No, so why should a musician do it for free.

  24. Uuuh…
    I don’t get paid as it is =P

  25. I do a lot In our church…. I handle all the tech, the website, a lot of the community outreach. I assist my Pastor with things. I clean the church, I fix things, I take of the landscape and more…. I don’t get paid but I put my heart into the church. We have members that don’t feel the same way though. They feel they should get some sort of compensation for doing stuff for the church. Our church members feel that they don’t have to tithe due to doing things to help the church. I am saddened to see this happen and don’t know how to reach these people but unfortunately there are these type of “Christians”.

  26. I think it’s simple. The Bible says “A Laborer is worthy of his wages”. It is not at all a crime to be paid to lead. I am the worship pastor of a new church plant, and worked three part time jobs (Two of them worship) in order to sustain an income while we were planting. All of those were a means to an end in order that I could one day work full time for my church plant. I am now happily on staff and spend all my time planning and resourcing our congregation with worship songs, prayers, and ideas. It’s as simple as this. If I was not paid, I would gladly still volunteer, but there wouldn’t be enough hours in the day for me plan the way I currently am. I would be spending forty hours a week working a job, rather than meeting with congregants, listening to new music, praying for my team, etc…

    I do believe we need to all be willing to lead for free, but if payment is offered and you have the right heart in accepting it, there is nothing wrong with that whatsoever. However if the payment becomes the goal, then one needs a heart check

  27. People get paid to lead worship?? lol I have been leading worship and directing the music department in our medium sized church for about 6 years and haven’t been paid for it. I feel that I put as much effort in it NOT getting paid as I would if I got paid. Music is my calling and it is my desire to do it for the Lord regardless if HE chooses to bless me financially or in another manner.

    And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

  28. Honestly, I believe musicians shouldn’t get paid in the first place. Worship should be free! We should always have that moment where we praise God without getting the satisfaction of a fat paycheck (or kinda thin, depending on the congregation). We should want to volunteer to usher in the presence of God to the people, not want to get paid for it. Sure, it’s a blessing to get money, but if the musicians get paid for doing what they do then the worshipers in the audience should get a slice of the cake also.

    With that said, I do not get paid for doing what I love – to bring the presence of God in His house… and I am absolutely okay with having that opportunity!

  29. If you are in church to get paid to be praise leader, then you are there for the wrong reasons. If your gift is playing and preforming music then you should give that gift back with your whole heart FOR FREE… God gave you the gift to use in His name; not for your monetary gain. You shouldn’t be paid to serve the Lord. That is the way of the world and we are not of the world. We were bought and paid for by the one true sacrifice that is Jesus our Lord and Savior. If you can’t praise and worship for free (as freely as Christ gave himself to save us from our sins) then you have your heart in the world and God is not in the world. If you want to be paid for playing, there are countless secular bars, clubs and arenas for you. A church that pays its praise leaders, preachers, pastors etc. money from the offering plate or tithes is wrongfully paying those people money that is not theirs to give. Jesus said to them: “It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” (Mt. 21:13) If your heart is not in it, then God isn’t in it either. We are supposed to give up the things of the world and traditions of men. Taking money for doing something you should do willfully and by the Grace of God is just wrong and you should be ashamed to accept money for it.

    • Ben,
      Wow, now this is opening a can of worms is it not? I play bass guitar in two of our seven worship bands. We have over 30 musicians plus a musical director and none of us have ever, or indeed, would never accept payment for giving our time to God. Most of the musicians either work, at University or, like me, retired. I am also one of the techies at church who help to run the PA and Visual side of things and again, no payment is asked for nor offered. However, we are a small church compared to most in the UK, (we have about 450 members) and have heard from other bigger churches that some of the musicians and techies get paid a nominal fee to pay fuel costs as a way of saying thank you for giving up their time. I think this is like swings and roundabouts. If you pay them you are making sure of keeping them at your church and that they don’t look elsewhere. The thing to look at is that if you start paying musicians and techies, then I think you might have some of the volunteers upset as some of them put in a lot of hours and travel from outside the area. I really don’t think we have a proven answer, only that God has given us gifts and talents to share and use with others and therefore no further payment should be required.

      • Bill I get where your coming from and I myself run a website that I and my brother pay for out of pocket at no expense to the church. It’s updated weekly by me. I couldn’t see the church paying me for it. I’m blessed to be able to do this for God and for my church. I am also a musician, songwriter and singer for my Lord. Our church is small but our praise team is wonderful and they are blessed to come every Sunday to worship God and praise him in song.

        That being said, I’m sure that larger churches may need to hire someone to direct choirs, musical ensembles etc. and I think that is wonderful if they have the funding to be able to help these people out. It’s the fair weather Christian musicians looking for a quick buck and using the church for monetary gain that bothers me most. I have seen those sorts of people come and go over the years and it’s upsetting to know that anyone would do such a thing, in the name of God, without really believing. And that I can’t abide by. But anyway, I am a firm believer that is we are not in agreement then God is not a part of it. Bless you for your comment and may God keep you all of your days. :)

        I don’t want to shamelessly promote but our site is http://www.voiceofvictoryrevivals.com come pay us a visit sometime and leave a good word.. There is always something changing, be it songs or messages and as the site grows our small television ministry will be parked on our Ministry page. And all are welcome to come fellowship with us at our home church. We would be glad to have you.

  30. What a great question and great discussion. I think there is a big difference between ‘could not’ and ‘would not’ pay the worship leader. I know that my senior pastors would love to pay our worship leaders (and many other people who volunteer not only on a Sunday but throughout the week) but unfortunately at this stage, it isn’t a financial possibility. I think it’s great that churches have the resources to pay their worship leaders/others but I am also really inspired and encouraged by people who regardless of whether they get paid or not still give it their all. God sees the sacrifices people make, the seen and the unseen, the known and the unknown. I believe He can and will reward and bless people regardless of whether they get paid or not.

  31. I do get paid a small fee that covers groceries for 2 weeks. But that is not why I do the work I do. The work I do is for God. I work about 30 hours a week on music, powerpoint presentations and a 2 hour rehearsal each week along with a 15 minute devotional for the Praise Team. I feel I have been blessed with the money but this is not essential. In fact, it is a donation that is made by a member of the congregation. We have insisted that he not do this but this is one of many gifts that he gives to the congregation and much more to the world. I am deeply grateful. I worship my God thru music and usually a large following with a very unique congregation. Praise all be to the Glory of God!

  32. Yes, I would still do it (I already do it without getting paid).

    But because I don’t get paid, I have to work a regular full-time job outside of church. So I am unable to devote the amount of hours I would have if serving as worship leader full time. If I could do it full time, there is certainly a lot more I could put into it, and I would have more time for building and coordinating a team. So, I do think in many ways it would be better if I was paid and full-time.

    But for part-time, I don’t think getting paid would make any difference in the quality. I currently put as much into as my time allows, and that wouldn’t change with pay. It’s more time, not pay, that would make the difference. But the pay would be a nice perk! :-)

  33. I think that i would still lead because leading worship is about Praising God and if you are unwilling to lead worship because you can not get any pay then it clearly says that you are in in for the money and not God. We are called to serve and that means the church also though so i would still do it though. But i think there would only be a difference depending on the person where his heart is at. if it’s toward worldly things and in this case wants the money then it probably would be different.

  34. Worship leaders get paid? I only see gospel preachers as authorized to make their living that way in the NT :)

    • You’re right, Jason, There is no mention specifically in Scripture at all of musicians being paid. However, to say that worship leaders shouldn’t be paid according to Scripture would be arguing a negative – if it’s not mentioned specifically, then it must be wrong.

      The question to ask is whether the church is asking you to give your full time attention to the ministry. If so, then I believe 1 Timothy 5:18 is clear, “Do not muzzle an ox while he is treading out the grain” and “The worker deserves his wages”.

      If someone can serve full time with no pay required, then that’s awesome. But it’s not a Scriptural mandate.

  35. I know there is a scripture reference to the paid ‘temple musicians’. Can anyone help me find it?

  36. As ‘worship’ has become more programed and theatrical, it has become a full time job for many leaders in the church.
    For 13 years I stayed home with my children, taking time off from teaching in the public schools. I had 20+ hours a week to devote to preparing and planning the service along side our leaders.
    It was a wonderful time of growth, as we moved from singing 3 hymns, adding a chorus or two, moving to a ‘worship’ band, integrating other aspects (prayer, scripture meditations, special music, poetry, dance etc…) into the song portion of the service so there was some leading and directing the thoughts of the congregation to a basic theme or scripture to focus on, prayerfully trying to create an atmosphere that enabled the congregation to encounter the God of the Universe as the corporate body in a meaningful way. Trying to engage their hearts and minds in active participation within the service, instead of coming, sitting and listening.
    But eventually it was too big of a job. Coordinating themes and scriptures, meditations, preparing song lyrics, (power point and eventually media shout) rehearsing musicians, and then leading 2 separate services every Sunday.
    When my husband lost his job, I knew God had prepared me earlier in life to step up at ‘such a time’. And so I was blessed to go back to work full time as a music teacher.
    The congregations elders did offer to put me on as a paid staff member, but I would be considered to be part time and was offered 2 Sunday’s off a year (family lived out of town). We would have had no health insurance and would have had to sell our home and move further away to live on that salary.
    I turned down the money, took the teaching position and tried to do it all. Our minister at the time helped me to see that I could not be a full time teacher, full time homemaker, full time mother and full time ‘worship’ leader ( no longer the song service leader), Prayer Coordinator, VBS Leader, Children’s Choir Director all at the same time. Something was going to suffer. And so believing God was leading me to a new place in service, I stopped leading the team and planning the services (as well as many other places of service).
    Much time has passed, and I truly miss the intimacy I had when I was able to spend so much time preparing to lead others, that was in fact a huge portion of my worship. I am now at a place in my life where I want to get back to the basics of Scripture, prayer and heartfelt songs of praise and meditation as I worship the King. I really struggle with the fact that ‘Worship’ has become such a business and such a point of contention within many of our congregations.
    Song services are only a portion of worship, and should never have become a business.

  37. I’m the worship intern at my church and will soon be taking over leading our Celebrate Recovery venue. I don’t get paid now, and if they still can’t pay me after I take over CR, I’ll do it anyway.
    We currently have two full-time music “pastors” on staff: a music director and a music coordinator. Previously, we also paid our college worship leader, and our coordinator was being paid to lead high school worship. In that time the director had a paid assistant, but his job was consolidated into the coordinator position which includes leading &/or coordinating worship for high school & college and assisting the director.
    Our band members are all volunteer and always will be. I believe that worship leaders whose entire ministry is worship, and whose entire livelihood comes from the church, should be paid (if the church can afford it), whether full-time or part-time. Our worship leaders (the two paid staff, our current unpaid college leader, and myself) are involved in so much more than “just” the music aspect of the church that we practically all work there full-time anyway.
    The quality of *worship* has nothing to do with money, but the quality of the *music* has much to do with it as money determines how much time a leader is able to put into preparation of the music.

    • What a great line: “The quality of *worship* has nothing to do with money, but the quality of the *music* has much to do with it as money determines how much time a leader is able to put into preparation of the music.”

    • I agree with Courtney and really like the statement that Josh pulled out.

      I used to work part-time at the church. That meant 3 services on Saturday & Sunday, rehearsals on Wednesdays, and music in the kids program. That was on top of my 50-hour-a-week full time job Monday through Friday. After a year of that I was exhausted. I had worked at the church before my full-time job hours increased, and was doing ok, but that was with only 1 service on the weekend.

      I currently work full-time at the church as Minister of Worship. That includes every aspect of music AND media…the MediaShout, the website, the facebook page, on top of the adult choir, youth choir, children’s choir, and praise teams. There is no way that I would have time to research music for all of these groups if I was working an additional full-time job.

  38. I currently live in Wales, UK, and have done both. I used to work for a big church in London as a full time paid worship leader, alongside a large group of mostly professional musicians. Oddly enough I was the only real amateur when it came to music. That lasted two years and I gave up being paid because although it gave me the freedom to concentrate on developing the church’s worship ministry, it also led to me being taken advantage of, because I was the only worship leader in the church who couldn’t say no to a request to lead extra services, worship for the Bible studies etc. In fact I burned out, and left the worship ministry for 18 months. Altogether I have been leading worship for twenty years, and the above is the only time I have been paid for it. I regard leading God’s people, young and old, as an honour, and am regularly reduced to grateful tears as I lead worship, that God has called me to such a wonderful ministry! Who needs to be paid for that?

  39. what a load of bull,
    Is someone gonna even suggest looking at a bible perspective on this

  40. What sets a Lead Pastor apart from the Worship Leader? I have worked in Worship ministry for over 15 years, I have been a member of worship bands and I have lead worship bands. From a strictly work standpoint I don’t see a difference in the effort that needs to be put in between the lead pastor and the worship director.
    Here’s why I say that:
    Being a worship leader you have to be creatively motivated. Every week you need to come up with a new set list. And plan for your service to be anywhere from 30min to 1hr and 30 min. This takes a lot of time.
    The worship leader/band helps set the tone for the service. We basically push the people through the garbage they have been dealing with all week to prepare them for the preaching portion of the service. This can be very draining emotionally and spiritually.
    We also deal with a specific group of people consistently. You have the drama of musicians.
    You deal one-on-one with those people all the time. Trying to work past the egos, personalities, bad days etc., of each person. Musicians are some of the most temperamental people I know. ;)
    Musically you have to always be up on your game. I can tell when I haven’t spent time during the week to practice. You have to spend time creating arrangements, transitions, flow.
    You have to always be up on new music. In a year I probably spend somewhere between $1000-2000 on new music. Don’t get me wrong, I like listening to new music so that’s not a burden I would probably buy it anyways, but as a worship leader a lot of people expect when they hear an annointed song on the radio or at some other church event that we should be doing it at church.
    These are just the practical points. Don’t forget the time that you actually have to spend talking and walking with God.
    Regardless of getting paid or not my heart wouldn’t change on how I worshipped God – my whole heart would be in it, but I know that my quality of worship leading would diminish – I just wouldn’t have time.
    Ultimately I believe that the gift that God gave us – worship leaders – is on the same level as the gift he placed within your pastor. If your church says “Your not a pastor, so we don’t pay you”, then I think there’s a problem. If your church just can’t afford it then that’s something else entirely.
    What is the point of a Sunday morning service? If we had a service without one element or the other – meaning if you lost the preaching element of your service or if you lost the worship side of your service – would your church survive? If not, then why shouldn’t you and the pastor be paid?
    God gives everyone gifts – for some it might be management, others maybe the ability to work with computers, etc. You don’t see those people working for free or others expecting it for free. My point is that our gift of musicianship or creativity shouldn’t always have to be a “donation”. And that’s how a lot of us feel.
    Anwyays my two cents.
    P.S. – I liked this question – I haven’t really ever stopped to wonder either side of the question.

  41. hmmm..interesting question. have been on both sides of this situation. i grew up observing our full-time minister of music as part of the paid staff at our church. our musicians were paid and had full-time jobs. if i were given the opportunity to work as a full-time worship leader, i would be able to spend more time creating and developing a worship and arts ministry. i would also have more time for prayer and development of worship and praise seminars for the entire church–not just the musicians. having the congregation involved in the worship process, in opinion, is critical to the progression and sincereity of the worship experience. personally, i have led worhship for free and have been paid to be a choir member for a special production in a church. it was a good feeling and it helped with expenses for getting to/from the church. if i were not able to be paid, the worship experience would be the same, just not as thorough as i would like.
    great question and thought-provoking answers from all.
    God bless you all. Love, healed4real

  42. What an interesting question.
    Being paid wouldn’t increase my mental commitment, annointing, or motive. But practically speaking, it would greatly increase the time I have available to prepare.

  43. A lot of good staff has been written already about this. I’m on the side of the people who think that WL should be paid. There shouldn’t be even an argument about big churches that pay staff that they should pay, at least, a worship director. But even for small churches, I think that they should “invest”. Because the reality is, yes, the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential, but when you hear something weel played, it captivates people. I know what I’m talking about. I’ve actually heard of people not visiting a certain church again just because the music was horrendous!
    Maybe in the beginning, they don’t need to start with a full time, but paying part time not only gives the leader time to prepare, rehearse and pray, but also tells him/her: “I care about what you do, and your ministry is important!”

  44. I lead the music at our church and play guitar. I also work a full-time job to support my family. Annointing or no, the quality of music is definitely related to how much time I have to put into it. How I transition from song to song, or how I arrange a certain hymn, or how I organize musicians and vocalists practically depends on how many hours I have logged the previous week. If you never practice, the “annointing” won’t help you.
    As for the act of worship itself, that depends on the heart of the Christian and the annointing of the Spirit.
    I would do it for free, forever, If I had to. I am, however, hoping to be paid soon.

  45. I think a church pay it to worship leaders. But not all, only worship leader who are serving full-time like pastors. In Korean worship leaders can not serve in church without money paid. Korea Gospel Music market is so small, and Many Koreans do not pay it for buying CCM albums. They just liten it on internet. So, Like pastors, a church should have to need to pay it for thier worship leaders.

  46. people get paid to lead worship?!?!?! shoot. i gotta talk to the last ten years of pastors.

  47. I just recently started to play piano at my home church. I get paid for it. For the last 7 years I have played guitar and /or keyboards at churches acros So Ca. At times, not getting paid. It has always been a blessing to play music . Let me first say that I have always given my all weather getting paid or not. I have been at a church on Sunday for 6 hours and no pay. Getting paid is a nice pat on the back, a nice thank-you. A lot of churches do expect one to do something for free. I have been told that “God wants it from us” This is the same Pastor that gets $60,000 a year to preach.
    Do i play better i when i get paid. No I play for Him Every note is for HIM.

  48. None of us get paid, though I have been paid in the past. Sometimes I get paid for a funeral or a wedding. It’s nice if they at least ask, especially if they are not regular attenders.
    I do think that pay makes a difference in whether people think more about the time commitment, thought it shouldn’t.

  49. In traditional Scottish churches the organist is usually paid a retainer. The fees vary depending on whether he is expected to turn up to mid week choir practice and of course how afluent / desperate the church happens to be. Needless to say his instrument is supplied!
    Not so the humble guitarist who rarely if ever gets paid and has to buy his own gear.
    I do both and it makes not a whit of difference to the quality of the music becuause the quality depends on the annointing.

  50. Honestly? I’d probably look for a different church.
    My degree is Pastoral Ministries with a concentration of Worship & the Arts. It’s not like I have much practical education to do anything BUT work in the church.

  51. Absolutely I would do it anyway! I do.
    The quality of the worship depends on the worshipper.

  52. Wow, I’ve never been paid to lead worship or for any involvement I’ve had in the church in the last 20 years. In fact, that’s unheard of in our church. I’d love to not have to work another job and just to concentrate all my efforts on developing the worship team at our church and building the arts ministry (which might be possible if you were earning a decent salary as a creative arts director or similar) but I doubt our church would have the funds to cope with that any time in the future.
    It’s an interesting conversation to have with others about how various resources are funded. The only “staff” at our church are the two ministers (husband and wife). Everyone else volunteers their time, but still serves with great passion and fervour.

  53. An interesting question on being paid to serve in the worship ministry!
    I guess this question relates culturally too, to where you are located.
    I am from Malaysia, and i have not heard of any churches in Malaysia who pays their team or Worship Coordinator or Musicians or Singer or Choir or AV Team for their worship service.
    The people who are paid are those who are working full time in church, ie we have a Worship Pastor and a Systems (AV) person who works full time.
    But apart from that we have a huge worship team that we schedule each month consisting of over 80 people in five different worship services each week.
    To answer the question, since i don’t get paid so i will definitely continue serving in the worship ministry without being paid.
    Would the quality in worship improve? I do not think so to. Cos we have always been giving our best as volunteers, and i doubt money would be a motivator to improve on what we currently have.
    Its really interesting to see how worship is done thru out the world! :)
    Everyone thanks for sharing!!!

  54. I lead worship three times a week for my church and once a week for outreach. I have a full time job. My church doesn’t pay me. We’re a very small church. I would like other musicians to join me but they usually want to get paid. You have to go to a much larger church for that to be in the budget.
    Love bridget

  55. Sorry, I realised that I didn’t actually answer the question. I think that unless the church is big enough to warrant a full-time worship ministry (I know of none in South Africa), then involvement in worship (whether as a musician, leader or technician) is a service, and therefore being paid or not should have no effect on quality. Worship is not about us, it’s about God.

  56. Sorry, I realised that I didn’t actually answer the question. I think that unless the church is big enough to warrant a full-time worship ministry (I know of none in South Africa), then involvement in worship (whether as a musician, leader or technician) is a service, and therefore being paid or not should have no effect on quality. Worship is not about us, it’s about God.

  57. I’m South African, and have been involved in worship/music ministry in a couple of very different churches and different types of music ministry (from Salvation Army brass band to currently playing the piano in an interdenominational church worship team) for many years. I have never heard of anyone being paid to do worship! My feeling is that this is where my gifts lie, and this is how I am able to serve my church.

  58. Hi!
    I’m from the Netherlands where I serve our local church as worshipleader and, together with my wife, as teamleaders overseeing both the worship team as the sound and projection teams. There’s only one full time paid ‘pastor’ and that’s it.
    I’d love to be able to spend more time on leading in our church, but next to a full-time job and three young kids that’s quite a challenge.
    Will worship improve when I’d be paid? No. Would my attention to our teams improve? Yes.
    Being paid has nothing to do with how good the worship is. Worship is a matter of the heart. Never about getting payement..

  59. Well, think a good question would be why do we even need music to worship God as a community. It seems more and more that “programming” takes so much time, energy, and effort and also $$$$$. It is intresting that this question is asked. We need to look more at the history of the church. Many lessons can be learned from the early church that thrived without “worship Hits” or worship leader performances. Since when did worship have quality??? That is the contrary to very definition of worship. I think only performances have quality. A real challenging question would be how many people would still show up if we could not worship without music?

  60. It is refreshing to see so many comments from people saying they don’t get paid. (and wouldn’t necessarily want to be paid) I’ve been in charge of worship at my church for over 6 years and never been paid. Previous, people were and with most of them it was a “gig” mentality rather than a worship mentality. I have many associates that are paid and tell me how wrong it is that I’m not. Sometimes I feel that way, but these comments have been very encouraging to me. Thanks

    • I am currently the Worship Leader at our church, the last WL resigned and since I had been WL there before I volunteered to fill in until our Pastor found someone.I have never been paid but the last WL was.I would not ever ask for pay, but would like to be offered the option just to know that they appreciate my work.I own my business,but there are people that need the money or could use the extra money, so I’m not at all against a WL being paid.

  61. I play the piano at my church and even when I coordinated the music for the worship service I never got paid. It’s great if the church can afford to pay the worship team, but I am the only person in my church that can play the piano which is our lead musical instument. The worship leaders have always turned down pay in the past. My sister was visiting a while back and she was shocked that our team didn’t get paid almost to the point of being outraged that a church would not support the people who are essential in worship. I explained to her that without the Spirit none of us would be effective anyway, so the church can’t pay the Holy Spirit just give themselves to Him each service and let Him work through us all. Would being paid be great; sure, but I cannot see accepting money for a gift that I was given to use as I am doing 3 or more times a week.

  62. Actually getting paid, either to lead worship or work technical side (running PA or power point) is not the point in my humble opinion. The actual point is how much is your effort actually appreciated…people say, “Oh thanks for all the work,” but laugh behind your back when you kill yourself while they sit in the congregation doing nothing. It’s the old “20% of the people do 80% of the work” type thing to me..Hope I haven;t gotten you too off topic…just the circumstance I’m currently observing…

  63. I get paid to orgainize the worship in my church, but I myself don’t worship lead at all (I play guitar, but that’s it).
    Without SOMEONE on staff organizing things, our church’s worship would be a mess (three unique venues each Sunday, three unique worship teams each Sunday). It’s a lot of work.
    I like to call myself a worship facilitator, or the creative arts director, as I don’t lead worship. Every church needs a facilitator of worship, and I think not paying them is only acceptable when you can’t afford to (ie the pastor isn’t getting paid either). Corporate worship is one of the main reasons for Sunday mornings, along with teaching God’d word. I think you’ve got to put those things on equal ground when it comes to economic compensation (they both deserve to get paid).
    I don’t know about amounts, and I personally don’t care, as long as I can feed my family and maintain a house and car. I didn’t get into ministry to be rich, but to serve God with my gifts. I feel humbled and honoured to be paid to co-ordinate worship at Lakeside here, and I thank God that I am able to be paid.
    Has the worship quality been improved by having a Creative Arts Director – yes. Do we pay our worship leaders – no. In the future, I would want to start paying them, only out of pure desire to see them economically compensated for thier time they devote tirelessly to our ministry. I don’t think that paying them will make them “better” worship leaders.

  64. Coming from someone who just plays guitar on Sundays, I don’t think anyone who isn’t on staff should be paid. This is just how I worship and to pay me to worship would defeat the purpose. It is work to get up early and go to rehearsals, but its also work for the Sunday school teachers and other VOLUNTEERS.

  65. Yes. Whether getting paid or not, the quality is determined by how much you consider this a ministry to the people of the church and your your Lord! The right focus produces strong worship!!!

  66. Absolutely I would do it even if the church couldn’t pay. I’d say the difference in the quality would be directly related to the amount of time I had to prepare for a service. If I still had to work a full-time(+) job in addition to the leading worship, it takes from the time available. That’s where I see the difference, anyway.

  67. People get PAID to do worship?
    I think a better question would be “If Churches could pay their lead worshippers, would the quality improve?” To which I’d answer: “yes.”

  68. I’m doing it right now. =)
    And even if they did, it personally wouldn’t change me from giving my best to serve the church.