I know some of us are full-time staff at a church, but some are bi-vocational "part-time", handling the music ministry on top of another job. What is your situation? Do you like it or would you prefer to change it up? What are some of the challenges you deal with due to your current situation? Pros and Cons of full-time vs part-time?

This is something that many of us deal with and some have only seen one side of the equation. Personally, I spent over 8 years full-time then after switching gears and going part-time, where the church wasn't my main income, I found that it worked much better for me. That's not the case for everyone, but maybe sharing some experiences here will encourage someone else that's in a similar situation as you... or give some helpful ideas on how to improve things or better view situations and options.

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When you say bi-vocational, you mean you get paid to be a worship leader some of the time? There is another chunk of us who don't get paid at all but still both lead worship, contribute to the music and spend time on co-ordinating the rest of the team. Can we play in this discussion?


Anyone can participate in the discussion. :) Bi-vocational means you have another full-time job that is your actual primary income, then you do ministry on top of that. I would put you in that same category, whether you are paid from the church or not. So I guess a 3rd category could be Volunteer Ministry... where you lead the music ministry but it's not a "job" at any level for you.

I know a guy that lead the worship at his church for probably 20 years before they made him a part of the pastoral staff. Now he's full-time. I'm sure he was paid SOMETHING in the previous years, but I have no idea how much. Personally, I've had about 8 1/2 years full-time experience, 8 1/2 years of part-time, and some volunteer stuff mixed in too. :) For me, it's a better situation when the worship leading is not connected to ability (or lack thereof) to pay my bills. There's enough to deal with already than having to bring finances into it. haha! That's just me though!

I realized the other day that I'm not even sure if our pastor is full time or part time... I started out as a volunteer; at some point, some committee decided that I ought to be paid, and then a year or so later they decided that I ought to be paid more.  It currently works out to about $75 a week, and, let's see... I'll guess that I put in five or six hours a week on average, although it's hard to distinguish between what's "my job" and what's "other volunteer stuff I do."  But I'm not exactly bi-vocational, either, since I'm retired from actual useful work...

I work full time at another job, which helps me pay to travel to venues where I'm required to do music!  I have never considered getting paid to lead worship and I'm not being 'everso pious' just the way it is as there is basically no money in the kitty for the likes of worship leaders.  I have been offered money in the past from certain people but haven't accepted it.  Mind you, this thread has stirred me up slightly as it's fine when all is going well, but when you actually think of all the work that goes into preparation etc. and you still get it in the neck, even though not very often................hmm? 

Well, the Bible certainly supports getting paid for your work. Leading worship is a LOT of work. If you don't want anything for it, that's certainly fine and your choice. However, it's not wrong at all to receive or even expect some compensation. I've lead worship many times at different places where I was not offered anything, and even though I consider that wrong on their part, I just do what I know I'm supposed to do. I used my gifts and was hopefully a blessing to the people at that church or event. When I'm doing those "extra" opportunities, and when I'm asked how much I charge, I don't give any set amount. I just say that they can give whatever they feel appropriate. At the same time, I don't think it's wrong for someone to have a set rate. For those that do regular traveling and depend on it for income, they have to have a set amount to make sure all is covered.

Got me thinking further......would you class a 'full time' worship leader as a 'professional' worship leader or is a 'professional' worship leader someone who is well known and produces CD's etc?

I consider a full-time worship leader someone that works full-time in a local church. Their 8-5 is at a church, which means they're not only leading worship, but are participating and working in other areas of the church also. This is their primary source of work/income.

My saxophone teacher told me when I was a teenager and had started traveling to area churches to do special music ministry, and received money for doing so in most cases, that I was now a professional. Once you get paid for playing your music, you're a professional. :) Now, that is very simplified and said partially in jest of course.

I think fame has zero to do with it. You can be a professional but not be well known. Also, anyone with a few bucks can produce a recording project... whether or not they have any business doing so or are remotely professional. So having a CD doesn't mean anything either.

Professional basically just means when you do that task as a "profession"... I guess... or you do it to a level of quality that is at least worthy of being paid for. In my opinion that is. :)

Thanks Nathan I have found your replies really interesting.  What triggered my question off was that some years ago there was a big conference in our area where they hired a 'well known' worship band the first year round who got paid goodness knows what.  However, the next year myself and others took on the exact same role of providing the worship throughout the weekend and were not paid a bean.  In fact the original worship band actually suggested to the organiser of the event that they get a local band for the next year to cut the costs.  Ok, I get that, and yes, it is all about God's glory, but if I'm honest I feel that although you are doing the same job you don't receive the same respect as the 'professionals'.

Forgive me for having a bit of a rant, I'm not always like this, but think this thread has pushed a few of my high horse buttons : )

I totally understand that feeling. I've been in the same boat actually. I was a part of a band for 10 years that did a large annual youth event with about 2500 kids. We handled the music and it was very well done. Well at some point they decided to bring in some "big name" bands instead. They paid BIG bucks to bring in bands like Planetshakers. I love that I was able to be a part of that for all of those years, but we weren't ever paid anything... well, beyond being fed and put in a hotel. :) 

Things like that just aren't usually handled well. People like us aren't out doing this for the money, but it's certainly difficult when it's so clear that some people will majorly take advantage of you. Just part of it I suppose. Fortunately, it's not always that way.

Hi Nathan

As you can probably tell from responses so far... in the UK, the general rule is that almost any job in the church is "voluntary" and that includes the leading of worship.  In our church there are only three paid positions, so far as I know: the vicar (pastor), the curate (pastors assistant) and a small administrative job. All the rest is voluntary, inlcuding the worship leading.  I've been doing this for about 20 years now, and never got paid. 

Probably there are only a small handful of paid worship leaders in the UK.

In my church, there was a small annual honorariam for leading the worship group but, when I took on the role, I declined it. As a lump sum, it looked quite large; spread across the year it would become a paltry amount per week. It didn't seem worth it to me compared to fact it would have involved an extra sense of obligation and also that it didn't also flow over to the many other people contributing to the worship music in the church.

I'm sure one of the factors is church size. My experience of UK churches is that most are fairly small. The maths just doesn't work to pay people enough to set aside more time than they are willing to do voluntarily. However, even aside from that, I wonder how it colours your experience of church? If you are paid enough to set time aside to work in ministry, how does that affect the balance of turning up as a gift or obligation and your relationship with people who are volunteering?


That is interesting. As Wulf said, I'm sure a lot of it has to do with church size. If you remain in a volunteer type of role, that does lighten the load a little bit as you can't be expected to really do anything outside of handling the worship part of the services. If a church expected you to do things that required a more significant time involvement, especially if it dug into your actual job/income, that would be troublesome and cause stress on what you're trying to do with ministry.

Like I said, it works better for me personally to NOT have the worship leading be my "job". However, if a church has the means to give you SOMETHING, I believe they should. It should at least be offered. Some simply don't have it to give, and that would of course be understandable too.


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