Should church musicians be paid? : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

The Smokie Norful thread is quite fascinating given the increased responses since it originated. It raises a related question in my mind. Why do churches, irrespective of denomination, pay church organists/pianists/choir directors? While I profess not to be an expert in music or musicology, Bob Matthews and Jerryl Payne are far better trained to respond to those matters, I do enjoy music. I'm deeply troubled however by recent trends where exorbitant salaries are being negotiated for professional services when before they were rendered on a strict voluntary basis. Defenders of the exorbitant pay scale stress that the Biblical mandate of " a servant being worthy of his hire" is justified, particularly if the person is playing church music full-time by forfeiting secular job opportunities. Perhaps there is a kernel of truth to this latter statement. But the implications about paying church musicians are unavoidable: inflated importance and unwarranted attention.

For many churches the decision to pay musicians is tantamount to spiritual blackmail given the perceived threat by such individuals to withdraw these services from their congregations. Personally, I find such threats reprehensible. Nonetheless, the core argument in favor of paying musicians is typically couched in terms of a scarce talent needed to enhance the "quality of the worship service". But, taken to its logical end, this argument holds equally true for Directors of Christian Education or Director of Missions. Individuals who hold these positions are typically non-paid or compensated with an amount well below what their talents warrant. I am not a foe of reasonably compensating individuals but I do question the deteriorating committment to provide service on a voluntary basis. I happen to serve as Church School Superintendent. I have taught Sunday School for over 25 years. I approach teaching the Word of God with the same tenacity and preparation as I do if I'm testifying before a Congressional Committee, making presentations to the Governor or the Joint Chiefs of Staff or any university lecture in economics, mathematics or history. The only difference is I do not seek exorbitant compensation for my Christian service. The little talent I do possess in Christian Theology I gladly discharge those duties in a strictly voluntary capacity. I'm even considering a special discount to the AME Today community for my forthcoming book (however the biography I'm writing in 2004 you have to buy at market value:-)).

While it is undeniable that music plays a key role in worship it is theologically inconsistent to elevate this activity above that of other ministries, namely, missions and Christian Education. Faithful stewardship, a clear signal of a saved, sanctified and Holy Ghost directed believer, is attained by preaching and teaching, not by the poetical beauty of Richard Smallwood, Hezekiah Walker or Yolanda Adams. I accept the fact that my opinion on this matter doesn't conform with "new school" or contemprary thinking. I am somewhat old-fashioned when it comes to high-jacking church budgets. Yet, when I look at the prices of gospel concert tickets I can't help but wonder. QED

-- Anonymous, October 06, 2002


Good Morning Professor Dickens,

I will be the first to buy your book when it appears on the bookstore shelves. However, I don't know what the particular subject of your book will be. I am willing to bet that if you wrote a book on the role of the black church in the economic development of the African-American community that this would be an earth shattering work. As a member of the intelligentsia, you could potentially ignite a new movement in the church. Quite frankly, I have not seen any writings on the economic responsibility of the black church to the black community. I know that my comments don't answer your question but the thought of an African-American economist writing a book inspired me to respond in this manner.


-- Anonymous, October 07, 2002

Bill, you raise an interesting question! Let's look at your question from a different angle. Is the musician paid more than religious education direction because of the entertainment value of services rendered? For example, if the church as a good choir, it typically draws more members which increases revenue. Religious Educational Directors don't necessarily attract new members. Have you ever heard anyone say "Chile you've got to go that Sunday School and hear that teacher! S/he is off the chain!":-)

-- Anonymous, October 07, 2002

Brother Dickens,

You are not alone in your assessment of the role of the church musician and whether or not they should be paid. I know very many folks in my home church are opposed to the salary that is paid the musician. However, consider this: as a lay person, you have made a commitment to the department of christian education to the extent that your studies are independent and voluntary. To my knowledge, you do not possess degree in that area, nor have you invested in any course work to enhance your knowledge in that area. (Please correct me if I am wrong.) The musician, however, is well within his/her rights to receive a salary if indeed music is their profession, if they have undergraduate, and in many cases, advanced education in music. The musician makes himself/herself available for every Sunday service, midweek service, funeral, wedding, anniversary program, usher's program, YPD program, missionary tea- if there is music to be had, the musician is going to be there. And unlike the Usher Board, the Christian Ed. Board, the Trustee Board or the Steward Board, there is no posibility for rotation among the various members of the board. The musician is usually a one-person show. Of course, this is not without exception, but it happens to be my experience.

I agree that choristers (choir directors) and such are not necessarily due to receive a salary, as I have served in that capacity and can attest to an individual's ability to do that job without financial compensation. But I believe strongly that the musician- pianist/organist- is indeed worthy of their hire.

In His peace,

-- Anonymous, October 07, 2002

I would like to point out that there are many paid directors of Christiam Ed., Youth ministers, worship leaders, etc. (granted maybe not in our denomination) out there. I think that once you expect a certain quality of performance then you need to compensate that person for the time and training that it takes to get that quality of service. Just as a clergy is being pushed to get more training so that they can better minister, our ministers of music, musicians, and directors are also getting better training. Also there are alot of careers in miniastry that are coming about for LAy people as well. We pay the church secretary for her time and expertise, so why not our worship leaders, lay officers and musicians. If we require them to program our services, and to go to seminaries and certificate programs in order to get proper training in designing programs of ministry, and expect them to put large ammounts of time in to provide quality service to the churches which they attennd and serve, then we need to free them from the burden of still needing to get income to survive by paying them for that time. I think that unfortunately in our church most people accepts paying the musician and pastor only, but they do not see the value in paying associate ministers, lay ministers, and support staff although they are all doing ministry and they may be more effective if they could devote more time or full time to those ministries. In this age we need to change that thinking, because most churches which are growing and are serving the needs of the people have paid staff that are working to design worship services, curriculum, and other ministries for the congregations. Even if you look at the level of service that a full time pastor can give a church, versus that of a bi-vocational pastor you will see that paying for ministry does pay off. Unfortunately you get what you pay for. I think our churches need to make the commitment to invest more in ministries (including Worship and music) and stop trying to get everything from paying one person.

-- Anonymous, October 07, 2002


You knew that you were going to get a response from me on this one. Of course you have opened a floodgate so my answer is a lengthy onee.

I sang for many years at a church where not only the organist was paid but the entire choir as well. Needless to say the music of the organist, choir and congregation was always done superbly well. By contrast, I played for many years at my church without a fee. However, this is not the Biblical position on music in the church.

As I look back on this perhaps I was wrong in not charging my church a fee, because in effect I was training them to not be responsible in accepting the obligation of good music in the church--music which is worthy of the praise of God. Consequently one reaps what one sows. So even with my loss of hearing and the use of a choclear implant, I often regret what I have done. I also believe that the church should pay all professionals no matter what they do. This includes both the clergy and the lay.

The first mention of music in the New Testament occurs in Matthew 26:30. It speaks of Jesus and the Apostles at the Last Supper and it reads, "And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the Mount of Olives." How was it possible that these 13 rugged men--carpenters, fishermen and the like--could appreciate, enjoy and even sing a hymn? The answere is that they were taught by skilled musicians who were paid to teach the skill they knew well.

In the Book of I Chronicles, Chapter 25, we read that for the Dedication of the Temple, Solomon hired 288 musician who were skilled and instructed in the playing of instrument and of song appropriate for the house of the Lord. The word used is "cunning" but it implies that they were highly, trained and skilled and that they could teach what they knew to the congregation as well.

In I Chronicles 15 we read of David's music ministers as well. I Chronicles 15:22 tells us that Chenaniah, chief of the Levites, was "skillful." in song. This implies that he knew what it took to produce the finest sound the instruments and singers could produce. I Chronicles 23:5. To insure the music was successful in the praise of the Lord, the Chief Musician and perhaps others as well, were paid from the tithes and the temple tax . (Nehemiah 11:23).

At the actual Dedication of the Temple, 2 Chronicles 5:13-14, we read that the musicians performed so well that heaven stopped to hear. For is says, "It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD; So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God."

Today I sometimes wonder if the angels must stop their ears like I.

Although I am certain that others will disagree, with a few exceptions where extreme talent is displayed, there are persons both clergy and lay who have no business whatsoever doing what they do. They have neither the calling, the aptitude, the training nor the skill to do the job and do it well-- a job which is worthy of the praises due our God. Additionally if personal profit becomes their motive, then chances are they are not doing the work of the Lord, but serving their own personal ego and greed.

Too often we quote Psalm 150, Praise ye the Lord--with all the following musical sounds--but we miss the key verse which says, "according to his excellent greatness." That is to say His Majesty, the majesty befitting the King of All Kings.

One who can speak well so that other may wish to hear, may not be able to deliver a sermon or administrate the church. By the same token, one who sings or plays is not necessarily one who can lead other to do the same. The skills which one needs to do these tasks demand continuous preparation and life-long training.

Thus, what we pay for is what we ultimately get regardless to whether or not the ministry is one which is led by the clergy or one which is led by the lay.

-- Anonymous, October 08, 2002

Thank you Prof. Dickens for posing the important question. And, my gratitude equally goes the participants of this discussion. What an electrifying conversation going on here! I do not have any specific contribution to make but to simply express my gratitude for this discussion - really inspiring. I love good music, especially in acts of worship.

We are not at the same level as in the US. But we will surely be there at one or another time.

At least, my friend and colleague, a clergyman and musician, some two months ago, expressed a sentiment which emphasises the payment of musicians in the church.

I pray that God helps us all to discern the revelation.

-- Anonymous, October 08, 2002

This is indeed a very good discussions. At my church we do not have muscians. We are a small congregation. I am a professional singer, and so I use muscic tracks during the service. My daughter Danielle plays the congregational hymns, God bless her, for she has never played the piano. And we have a member who plays the doxology. We do not have the money to pay muscians yet. But our services are filled with muscic and love. Our Bishop Bryant sent us money for our church and one of the things we bough was a very good Yamaha keyboard that we can down load midi files. The Michigan Conference Lay organization has bought us brand new hymnals and every sunday we sing. One of the things that concern me as a pastor is that often times we are moving away from the emphasis on the "sacrament and the word" that is the sermon and the sacraments of the church. For these two things are what Protestism are built upon. We are methodists and music is an important element in the way we worship. But I do hope that music is looked upon as a way to bring people to God for them to seek the road to salvation. To that end it is important I think that muscians and pastors work together. When I have pastored churches with muscians I always discussed the music with them at ministerial staff meetings, They knew what my sermon would be, and the theological message I wanted to convery. If we sang "Blessed Assurance" we would discuss what that meant and what it meant to them. If we are paying muscians that are not members of our church, I also hope we remember to ask them about their relationship with God, for if you are sitting in the sanctuary you are part of the congregation. Muscians have their talent because God gave it to them. They should not be set apart or put on a pedestal, but instead we should help them discover how they can use their gift to glorify him. And to our churches in Africa, not all A.M.E churches in America, have big choirs, lots of muscians or even have muscians, some of us are probably just like you, praising God with what we have. Rejoice, for it is our love for Christ that is music to God's ears. files, it sounds like a grand piano and also has over 20 instruments.

-- Anonymous, October 08, 2002

Oops please excuse the last line of my post starting with files, that line should have been with the Yamaha piano. I have no idea how that happened. O.k I was eating breakfast and typing;-)

-- Anonymous, October 08, 2002

"I agree that choristers (choir directors) and such are not necessarily due to receive a salary, as I have served in that capacity and can attest to an individual's ability to do that job without financial compensation. But I believe strongly that the musician- pianist/organist- is indeed worthy of their hire", W.J. Richardson

This is a very touchy subject for many churches as well as Musicians/Directors, and I beg to differ with the statement above.

Directors of choirs are essential for any music department. Our jobs are as follows: Music Preparation-Finding appropiate music for services Project Coordination-Balancing and Planning for rehearsals, services, engagements, and workshops. Teaching-Recognizing and teaching parts to choir members of Children, Youth, Young Adults, Middle Age, and Senior Choirs. Multi Tasking-Following and knowing the order of services for worship services and special events. ...just to name a few. These tasks are prevalent and essential to the music department and the musicians (pianist/organist) cannot do this themselves.

As an UNPAID Director (By chose), my job not only requires me to be a Director, but to also be a Counselor, Minister, and a Levite. As a Director, and I speak for everyone, we are expected to be on time for both 8 and 11 o'clock services. We are expected to participate in Mass Choir events. We are expected to accompany Ministers and their engagements. We are expected to attend Music Department meetings. Some of us, like in my church, are even expected to have some music background (of Higher Education) in order to Direct and we are expected to pay for our own travel... Now why should we not be paid?

Fortunately, the Lord has blessed my career and my finances to not expect a paycheck from my church congregation. With that in mind, I am also a full time, concerned and active member of the church. However, I do imploy that churches should not have some pre-conceived notion that musicians/Directors should not be paid for their time.

This should have nothing to do with what use to happen back in the day. Yet, it has everything to do with trained young men and women, who has paid for their training and education, providing a service. Therefore, we should pay.

Mrs. Sutton is also right in her statement... And we should be real about the situation.

Thanks, Simeon Rhoden

-- Anonymous, October 08, 2002

Does these apply to this question?

Gal. 6:6 Those who are taught the word of God should help their teachers by paying them. Gal 6:10 Whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone, especially to our Christian brothers and sisters.

The parenthetical verses 7 - 9 seem to say to me that when we sow into the music ministry (or any other ministry), we will reap from that ministry.

Be Blessed Pastor Paris

-- Anonymous, October 08, 2002

Well, needless to say, the responses to this question have been very insightful. Our resident musicologist Bob Matthews described it best - "the floodgates have been opened". Opening the floodgates is a good precursor for constructive dialogue and debate on key issues which impact the overall welfare for a group or organization. I remain nonetheless unrepentant about my original position concerning the exorbitant pay structure for church musicians.

Several economic factors assist in helping me reach this conclusion. I apologize if the following discussion is a tad bit pedantic but as they say "this is what I do for a living". First, Christian ministry, which includes music, ought not be understood as "work" in the formal sense of the term. In economics work is an activity which is transacted in a market for labor. In this market certain individuals exchange time devoted towards a mental and physical activity for some type of pecuniary (monetary) reward. The key is individuals who accept pecuniary payment do so because work is a dis- utility ( an undesirable activity) and as such compensation is necessary to encourage them to supply the hours of activity. Christian Ministry should be viewed as an activity which yields utility (benefit/pleasure) not dis-utility. We serve the Lord because we want to and because it is something we enjoy doing. To suggest that exorbitant compensation for Christian Ministry is warranted runs the risk of accepting the default assumption that it is no different from any other type of "work" and as such it (ministry)is equally undesirable in scope and purpose.

The Psalmist categorically rejects Ministry as work. Psalm 37:4 reads "Delight thyself also in the Lord and Psalm 34:8 affirms "Oh taste and see that the Lord is good". To seek compensation (particualrly excessive) is simply incongruent with the basic principles of economics. Secondly, economics provides a sound and rational reason for why people volunteer their time without expecting pecuniary rewards. Helping others reach their creative potential is an important individual and collective goal if we accept the premise that we our well-being is inter-dependent with the well-being of others. Altruistic actions therefore are understood as rational since helping others improves the overall social good. Seen in this context the "bigger good" transcends pecuaniary compensation. Christian Ministry is no exception.

Finally let me address some of the outstanding points raised by WJ Richardson, Bob Mathews and Brenda Sutton. The Richardson-Matthews thesis is compelling because it links skilled credentials and quality expectations with compensation. As an economist I can appreciate these fine gentlemen applying the pedagogical tools of economics in illuminating the BB on this topic. However, let me suggest that their thesis is potentially problematic because it runs the risk of being unabashedly elitist in structure. Richardson is correct about my academic pedigree. I do not hold an earned degree in theology. I have however taken clases at Wake Forest University Divinity School, Howard University Divinity School, Southern University Divinity School (Louisville, KY) and Harvard University School of Divinity, the latter which I hold a special certificate. I have been an active attendee in Christian Education Congresses in both the Progressive National Baptist Association and the AME Church over the last 25 years. I only provide this peek at my vita because I could also be elitist and "demand" that my fellow Christian brothers and sisters compensate me for my Christian service. In good faith, I cannot. The Biblical examples Bob provides are instructive. However, I would advance the view King Solomon was able to pay for the skilled musicians because he was independently wealthy. Solomon was Bill Gates + Larry Ellison + Warren Buffett multiplied by a factor of 100!!! The Temple at the time of Solomon was the definitive "First Church" in the Israelites Connectional experience. Just like we have 1st churches today in the AMEC which are financially capable of an advanced compensation structure it isn't surprising that Solomon was able to do the same. Finally, Brenda Sutton's observation about the linkage between music as entertainment and church attendance is extremely important and equally interesting. Do people attend churches based on the melodious sounds of the choir and pianist/organist? If this is true this supports the extortion practices used by some unscrupulous musicians. However, recent trends suggest that many of our members are leaving our churches because of what they perceive as a lack of teaching. The "Word" churches are experiencing rapid membership increases without a concomitant music-centered worship environment. Just something to chew on. QED

-- Anonymous, October 11, 2002

Could someone give some examples of how much muscians are paid in our denomination. I am curious. Thanks

-- Anonymous, October 11, 2002

Rev. Denise, that may be hard to do.

Some musicians perform gratis, as Bill has suggested. This is especially true in our rural charges. Salary scales are often reflective of congregation size, so it's not uncommon for churches under 100 members to pay salaries of $25, $50, or $75 per week. As churches reach a larger base, the scale also goes up.

In some of the moderate size churches of the Tenth, for example, musician salaries range from $200-$600 per week. In the largest churches, it can approach $1000 per week, but then it becomes a full-time job, with preparation responsibility for more than one choir or group.

Location also plays a factor in pay scale. Major metropolitan areas probably have salaries reflective of the work force. I would suspect California, NYC, and other large metrpolisies with large congregations pay well.

Another factor to consider is the renown of the musician/artist. Gabriel Hardeman, possibly Smokey Norful, the late Rev. Donald Vails, Carlton Burgess, and others whose music we sing (either because they are the composer or the artist) probably command an even higher pay scale for services in the music department.

The bottom line is, a survey of musicians that shows pay contrasted to congregation size, department size, and region would give you a better sense of musician remuneration.

-- Anonymous, October 11, 2002


In my post I said that Solomon, David and others paid the musicians of worship from the tithes and temple tax. There is no suggestion that they ever used any of their own funds. I also suggested that this same system of paying musicians was in effect when, following the Last Supper, Jesus and His Apostles "sang a hymn."

Today we are using that ancient custom of tithes, which I feel, has no precedent in the New Testament/Christian Era. I think rather that it teaches freely you have received freely give. Yet our ministries go lacking because of the inconsistent use or even misuse of the tithes that we collect.

I agree with you that no ministry should be left out no matter how small it seems. I also agree that exorbitant fees paid for any ministry borders extortion. But if we are going to use the legalistic Old Testament system of tithing we ought to also examine how it was collected and how it was used.

-- Anonymous, October 11, 2002

During my early college days, pianists and organists were compensated monetarily. Man of my class mates went on to attend Seminary and receive the MDIV's in Christian Music and were hired by local congregations. While in graduate school, it was rewarding to see a local congregation pay the round trip air fare for one of its musicians in order tha shee be on hand to attend to the musical chores at the local church. In the early 1980's the organist fromt he Baptist Church was compensated $ 300 for playing at the 11:00 a.m. service and my class mate received $ 350 per week.

Since this is 2002, the Minsiter of Music (A Part-time Positions) is compensated $ 15,000 per year. In the city that I reside a few years ago, the Part-time organist was paid $ 18,000 per year.

I recall a young balck male from Memphis, Tn who grew up in the AME Church. A very good musician. He graduated from high school and I mentioned to a AME Pastor friend of mine that he should consider hiring the young man. Our local church in that city was apying a musician $ 45.00 per week. This freshman in college was hired at a Missionary Baptist Church beginning at $ 250.00 per week. Minimum wage back then was probable $ 3 +.

A friend fromt he 6ty District mentioned to me regarind our experiences in The Music City USA, Nashville, TN, that people seemingly were interested in being entertained thatn hearing the preaching of The Gospel.

Lastly, I have a relative that is a very accomplished musician and if you were to mention to him about his being compensated less thatn the going rate he would ask this question "What planet are you from? A few years ago, his compensation from a local church was $ 450.00 per week.

Be Blessed! WHS

-- Anonymous, October 14, 2002

I really didn't want to weigh in on this question but I cannot believe that people do not want to compensate the musicians. They have to attend and run rehearsals with members who show up when they feel like it. They have to be at church on time and attend the various engagements many of which they find out about at the last minute and they are expected to come "with it" There is an old adage "you get what you pay for." Remember that the next time you wonder why your music ministry is still singing songs from the 40's because that is the only thing your "free" musician knows how to play. Or your rhythms are wrong and off key.

-- Anonymous, October 25, 2002

I really cannot believe that there are people who think that the musicians should not be compensated for his/her talents. I am a church musician myself and I fell that both DIRECTORS AND MUSICIANS should be paid equally. Speaking from experience most church musicians not only play but direct and heads the music ministry also. Church musicians and directors deal with a lot of issues. Undedicated people, attitudes, hetic schedules, and unneccessary criticism are JUST A FEW. Any church with a good music department can really help to increase church membership which in return brings in more revenue. Also most spiritually immature people will chose a church just because they have a good music department. I feel that not only musicians should be paid but others ( layman, clery) and anyone who provides quality service to the uplifting of GOD'S kingdom.



-- Anonymous, November 21, 2002

I was searching the web for something, and happened to run across this page. I choose not to use certain information about myself, not only to protect myself, but also the integrity of the ministries that I represent. I am a musician for church with well over 15,000 members; including 6+ choirs, numerous outreach functions on and off campus, 3-5 services per week, etc. The demand on my life is much more than what most would deem reasonable service. I read through many of the comments, and chuckled a bit, for one, most of them have no biblical foundation. They are only, at most, humble opinions. I get paid to do what I do. I get paid very well. I won't share the figure, because you probably couldn't handle it.[still chuckling a bit] But the truth of the matter is that I don't play because I get paid, I play because God anointed me to play the instrument that I play in the particular church body that I play in. Now most of you that are reading this are probably in doubt about my sincerity right now. You are probably making judgements in your mind already. Hold them! Let me tell the story. When I started playing where I play, There were 3 or 4 services on Sunday alone, Midweek services, and other scheduled weekly services, Conferences, and outreach ministries. There were rehearsals on Tuesday, Thursday, and 3 or more on Saturday, starting at 8:00 in the morning, and ending around 4:00 in the afternoon. Now you're saying "Well with that demand, you should get paid!" But I WASN'T GETTING PAID! As a matter of fact I served faithfully for 2 years before I received a paycheck! I was in school with no money, and even though I knew what God called me to, that didn't make the strenuous effort and pain of it all much less. It was real hard. But I finally recieved a reward. Now for those of you that want to get biblical we can go there. I'm not going to give any scriptural references, so don't take my words for the truth. If you really want to know God's way, then study it for yourself. The problem with most churches is that they are so far out of order and have been for so long, that they don't know what God really said. That's why they think that they can build a new church by selling chicken dinners and fish fries, and have a fulfill a church budget on selling Chrismas cookies and candy. They don't tithe (which is not an option) and at best they "tip" God in the offering. That's why the church ends up just buying a new copy machine to replace that old roller copier that you have to pour ink into, and roll by hand. God's way is that the tithe goes to the priest, which includes the ministering staff (pastor, elders, ministers, etc) those who keep the building (that is physically and business wise, including custodians, secretaries and office workers, etc) and the money also supports the minstrels, who are also considered to be a part of the LEVITICAL PRIESTHOOD. The tithe was never even supposed to be for building buildings and that sort of thing. When Moses was building the tabernacle, they ask the people to bring out of their personal stuff. They brought so much that Moses had to tell them to stop bringing stuff. When is the last time you were at church, and the preacher said, "Please, stop throwing your money on the alter...We have too much!" If you came from the church that I came from (and I know you did) the deacons at the front probably said, "Church, can we get just 20 more dollars...we need 20 more dollars...19...17...16...12..." then that was followed by, "We would like to thank you for a grand total of $150 and thirty-seven cents." excuse my expression, but WHAT IN HELL is that?! It surely isn't God's way. When the church gets back to the way that God designed ministry, then the tithe would take care of those who sacrifice their lives for ministry (including you, Bill) so that they can devote the time it takes to give God what he needs in service. Those that have jobs and businesses would further advance the Kingdom by bringing more than enough, and by our witness of what we do rather than what we say, would disciple others to Christ, and get us all out of bondage. I'm not saying that there shouldn't be volunteers in the church, and I thank God for those that do. I also thank God for those humble people that choose not to take pay. However, that makes you no better than those that do. Don't PLAYA HATE! the reason most don't accept a salary is because it's never been offered to them. There will come a time that I will be so financially well off that I will give my check back to the church and play as a volunteer. That will be because I have taken the talents that God gave me, and done business (outside of the church) and multiplied those talents. Now let me leave you with this thougth...Jesus talked about money and the Kingdom more than any other subject. If you ever figure out what his intent was in those parables, you'll understand the Kingdom that much better. Let's stop grabbing little pieces of God's word, like it being easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God, and making it our foundation for not having the things that God said we could have. He didn't say that a rich man entering into the Kingdom was impossible. I know many rich men in God's Kingdom. The thing is, they know what to do with their money!

Grace and Peace, Silent Scream (scream back if you can hear me)

-- Anonymous, December 14, 2002

Oh, and Bill, although I applaude your eloquence in written word, on your last writing, I'm not quite sure what you were trying to prove or demonstrate. Hence, I ask,"what is your QED?" for those of you that don't know what that means, it is an abbreviation for the Latin expression "Quod Erat Demonstratum," meaning,"what I have set out to prove, by this argument I have done so." Bill sometimes it would be easier on the eye and to the average joe if you would de-complexify some of your speech. I know what you are saying, but I'm not so sure about the average reader of these posts. I guess this is sort of for everyone. Don't show me what you've learned about God through your education or your books...Show me through your relationship, because the truth comes out in your writing.

Grace and Peace, Silently Signing off

-- Anonymous, December 14, 2002

This subject really fires me up. I am one of those individuals who was called to this ministry and for years worked without compensation. I am a very well qualified Music Minister with a $70,000 college education in sacred music, organ studies, handbell and choir direction and a certified teacher of music. However, who will feed and provide health insurance to my family and disabled husband now that I work 50 hours a week in Catholic Music Ministry. If you want a volunteer to provide your music ministry then go back to the 1970's and enjoy the folk mass. P.S. even the strummers don't work for free anymore.

-- Anonymous, January 03, 2003

Quick question for those who defend exobitant pay structures for church musicians. From a strict theological perspective, which is more important music or missionary work? In other words if your church budget was reduced to feeding the hungry, clothing the naked or providing shelter for the homeless would you sacrifice these humanitarian needs for paying musical artists to provide excellence in song? QED

-- Anonymous, January 03, 2003

Well, If all your budget allows for is to feed the poor and cloth the naked, then you obviously have no place for paying much of anybody. And to that extent, I would agree that the sacrifice of ministry should be taken up by all other ministries...But to get to the root, if that is all that your church is able to do, then 1) You are a new ministry, or 2) You've been stagnant for a LOOOOONG time. When Jesus came and quoted Isaiah in the temple He said that he came to preach the Gospel to the poor. If the gospel literally means "good news," then if I was poor, the good news to me would be how to get out of poverty. Maybe 3) should be, that your ministry doesn't know how to minister. Hear me...You can "minister" by giving food and clothing, and even shelter to the homeless, but if you never provide jobs for them they'll always look to you for their supply, and will never be able to pour back into the very same ministry that helped them. Teach them how to fish! In doing so, you'll eventually enlarge your budget. That's ministry! If they don't want to learn and get out of the lifestyle that they live, well, the bible also says not to cast your pearls before swine.

-- Anonymous, January 04, 2003

***********(CONT'D)**************** We need to realize what Jesus REALLY taught, and not what we think he was saying. God is more strategic then we give him credit for. I'm not saying that you help people so that you can get something in return. I'm saying that if I was poor and you REALLY helped me get back on my feet, then I'd be blessing your ministry every chance I got. On the other hand, If I make an investment, and I don't get a return on it (like the servants and the talents) then I will be punished by my master, so I'd better find a good place to invest what was given to me, for a good return.

This thread isn't really about musicians getting paid. (as I said before) there are some more fundamental issues that should be addressed.

Grace and Peace, Silent Scream

-- Anonymous, January 04, 2003

In response to Professor Dickens Question: That issue would never be a problem any charge that I am responsible for because the rwo ministries are financed from two seperate sources. Our missions /benevolent ministries are financed from our Benevolent offering. I have made a commitment to our church that EVERY PENNY of the money collected from that offering will be used to bless 1}individuals 2) Community based organizations making a difference in the life of our community and/or 3)churches (usually smaller) who are in particular need. I have found that when people know that is your practice they will support the work of ministering to those in need generously. Last Conference year, the people of Johnson Chapel contributed very close to $12,000 for this purpose. I fully expect that we will do well over $15,000 this year. Our music ministry on the other hand is funded through our general fund via tithes & Offerings. We pay at or near top scale for our area for those who minister in this critical area. We do so for several reasons.a) Music is ESSENTIAL to our Worship b) Excellence in our Music Ministry is vital to our abllity to grow c) The Lord has blessed Johnson Chapel with marvelous vocal talent. Because of that, I believe that, as the Pastor, I have the responsibility before the Lord, to ensure that the persons with that talent are providedc all of the resources, support and leadership needed for them to utilize that gift at the highest level and to the glory of God d) I have no interest in being a training ground for other churches music ministry programs. There is too much time, effort, and "Stuff" invested in the Pastor-Minister of Music - Choir relationship to watch a Minister of Music walk across the street to another church for $23 more a week.

Yours in the Joy of Jesus, Mike Barta

-- Anonymous, January 04, 2003

A workman is worthy of his hire. I think it is so sad that we don't see the musicians as the minister that they are. Everyone with a musical talent is not called to music ministry just as everyone who can speak well is not called to the preaching/teaching ministry. If you are a psalmist, worship leader, minister of music, etc. you are taking the word of God and putting it to is a form of preaching. Why are we so closed minded. IF you don't want to pay your music minister, don't. But don't begrudge those who do because they are planting into good ground and are receiving a harvest. Church folks can get so deep on some trivial things but spend $300.00 on a suit and $100.00 on a hat(and don't forget about the matching shoes), drive a $30,000 car, then go to a restuarant and pay $30.00 +tax and tip for a (fattening) meal but argue over blessing a child of God who has been a blessing to your spirit man. And to get upset about how much he would get paid if he was paid??? What hypocrites! If we had a service, funeral, conference, etc. and no musicians was there, everyone would be murmuring an dcomplaining but who gave him money for his car fare, to get his suit cleaned, etc. He would have to get a secular job to pay his bills and would not be available to rehearse or to play for functions. You can't have it your way. Muzzle not the ox that treads out the corn. The Levites( they were preachers, musicians, keepers of th temple, etc) lived from the offerings of the temple.

-- Anonymous, February 20, 2003

I don't have a bunch of huge words to use or nothing like that, all I have to say is, most definately the organist should be paid. Doesn't the preacher get paid, the preacher delivers the word, and the organist delivers the music, that's how you get the members, and more members equals more money in the offering pan, so why not pay the organist?

-- Anonymous, March 15, 2003

Coming from a spanish ministry i've never seen or heard of musicians being paid in our churches. Our church for many years now has been extremely lucky to have an excellent praise ministry. I have to admit that the question of paying musicians has popped up in my mind frequently in the last months.

Thank you for your posts. Some of your writings have helped my thought process on this matter.

Armando Raygoza

-- Anonymous, June 14, 2003 let me give you my set-up....I led the P&W at my church for about 3 years total....the first year was total volunteer. Also, I play keyboards when I led worship and could split one keyboard for a bass guitar, AND I had a drum machine which I spent many hours programming in the event our drummer did not show up. Then for about 2 years, I receieved $400/month..I stepped away for about a year and decided I did not want the full responsibility of of the position, but did come back to play keyboards and take care of worship during the altar time. I also, pretty much ran the rehearsal since I was the most accomplished musician at our i apporach them about receiving compensation for waht I am doing becasue I simply needed extra $$ to take care of needs that arisen. I let them know that if I could not receive compensation for my time and efforts I would be forced to look at playing secular music, which would be on the weekend and might interfere with me playing Sunday AM & PM.... You knwo what?...I got shot down guys and seems that as long as I had the title position of Worship Leader it was Ok to receive compensation, but...since I am now a keyboardist, i fall into the classification as musician and therefore, cannot receive compensation, even tho, I continued to run rehearsals for the current P&W leader and assume responsibility for the band. I can't figure it out gang? It was like I was sold off to playing for drunks in a bar, which did pay very well! Did i like playing in a bar? not really, I veiwed it as a job, as a means to pay for school trips for my kids, to let them have a chance to do things and go places, and that was the only way to make some extra $$$. Bitter about this? Maybe.....but I still go to church, love God and worship Him. i have no problem playing Eagles & Mellencamp on Saturday nite and singing How Great Thou Art on Sunday morning......

-- Anonymous, July 24, 2003

When will this paying for service in the church stop, you pay for the church to be clean, you pay for a secretary, you pay for the coooks to cook the food for the homeless, you pay the associates ministers to elaborate on the word, and etc.... soon we'll be paying the ushers, choir members, steards, trustees, class leaders, and etc. In my humble opinon, we have persons with a wealth of TALENT given to them by God and we should not have to pay them for real SERVICE to the church or unto God. But then again it goes back to your maturity of sprirtuallty, we ask professional sport athletes to give back to the community, why not ask members with great talents to give back to the church. The majority of our black musicians get their start in the church choir , but yet we don't try to catch them before the world snatch them up them. No we should not have to pay Church Musicians if they are truly memn and women of God and He has blessed them with their talent. We also nee to be careful of hiring musician from other denominations. Just my opinion........

-- Anonymous, July 25, 2003

I have been a church musician for 45+ years, in churches of varied denominations and sizes. My skills involve piano/organ/keyboard, vocal and conducting, composition/arranging, organization and motivation, and spiritual leadership.

-- Anonymous, August 05, 2003

I have been a church musician for 45+ years, in churches of varied denominations and sizes. My skills involve piano/organ/keyboard, vocal and conducting, composition/arranging, organization and motivation, and spiritual leadership.

Whoops - hit the key too early.

Some of the positions have been paid and some not. However, in developing these God-given skills, I gained a college education at my own expense, acquired a music library worth tens of thousands of dollars, and lived a life of sufficient quality to build an excellent reputation. I also worked full-time jobs as teacher, social worker etc., since someone had to pay the bills, buy the music, feed the kids, etc. I often wonder how much more I would have been able to contribute if I had been able to work fulltime at what I loved to do and for which I was uniquely gifted by God.

The hardest thing I experienced was a very large church - 15,000 members - which set the price for weddings and funerals for the organist, and set them at about 1/3 the average rate "on the street". When I requested, after 5 years, an increase that didn't even match inflation, my spirituality, Christianity and heart for service were attacked by those who were my "spiritual" leaders. That I stayed in church music for another 20 years should be testimony of my commitment to service and to God, if not necessarily to the organized church.

-- Anonymous, August 05, 2003

This is a very interesting discussion. I am also a church musician. It takes a lot of time to become a good musician, and it takes time to keep your proficency. It takes a lot of time to prepare for rehersals, listening to a lot of music to pick out for your choir, learing the music and picking out all the parts, printing out the lyrics, working with the soloist, and also dealing with the attitudes of the choir as whole. Everyone's time is valuable, even the musicians. And yes God gave us the time, and he gave us the talent, but he also gave us bodies that will need health insurance, dental insurance, food & clothing and other responsibilities. To some people it seems that God just gave us the talent to play music..But most of us were just given the same amount of talents as everyone else, we just made the decision to spend more of our time developing our musical skills, because we love to make music. You have to love it to put that much time into it without compensation. The number 1 rule of business, is to never fall in love with the business, because you make decisions based upon emotions and not reality. Once a musician has a Revelation of how valuble his time is, he realizes he has to be compensated or find another profession that will compensate him enough to meet his responsibilites.

-- Anonymous, September 12, 2003

I was perusing the net looking at this topic and found this forum. These thoughts are my own and not the absolute perfect answer just my thoughts. I am a church musician. I was taught how to play drums by another drummer in the church. I went to a small but growing church. I played drums there for about a year and a half to two years before relocating because of my active duty military status. While at that church I also learned some keyboarding skills.

My answer to the question of whether musicians should be paid or not is it depends. If the church I go to expects me to bring my own equipment such as keyboards, drums, guitar etc... then I would say yes even if it was a small church. I play the drums for the love of the instrument so I did not expect pay. Our pastor preached for free because he had an MBA and already made six figures so all tithes,offerings and all that went into the fund to build a new church. But back to the question: If you have to bring your own instrument and subject it to more wear and tear than it usually would get, then I do not see anything wrong with a little pay such as $50- $100 a week. Keyboards are not cheap and the professional quality boards run $1500-$4000. That is a lot! I would never demand pay because I do not consider myself to be a professional musician with only a couple years under my belt.

I think that churches that do not pay musicians should be reasonable with there demands. Expecting a musician to come out to some activity at the church almost everyday and play to perfection is kind of asking alot for a "volunteer." I think that these mega churches need to pay there musicians. They are generating millions of dollars, selling platinum records so of course they should pay as I am sure they do. In that perspective they should pay the choir at least a little if they appear on a record.

To sum it all up: If I play a couple times a week on your equipment for a small congregation then services are free. If I have to bring my stuff, then a little something is appreciated because that helps me buy more equipment, hopefully better and will pay if something needs to be repaired.

Mega Church: Of course, but I am sure that T.D. Jakes pays his musicians!

-- Anonymous, September 12, 2003

I believe we should use our talents to Praise God. Is it not God who has blessed us with each talent we have? With that being said, I personally love to sing. Should I be in "need" and was offered a small amount, then I say by all means pray about it first and if so led, accept. I do not feel the Church should be expected under any circumstance to pay, with exception to offerings of those who travel or are asked to do so. Hope I added a lil something.

-- Anonymous, September 13, 2003

I have been a church organist for more than 20 years. I am currently the Minister of Music at my churh with 500+ members. I am responsible 6 choirs, 5 worship services, as well as accompanying the pastor on preaching engagements, and expected to attend all church programs without being notified. I am paid $12,600 per year. People need to realize that there is much more to the job than just what is seen on Sunday mornings. If I were to calculate the amount of preparation time that I spend working on various music and compare it to what I'm paid, it is very disheartening; but my love for music makes it all worth while.

It seems as though musicians that don't have any type of formal training are more appreciated and are usually paid more than those with formal training.

-- Anonymous, September 19, 2003

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