Should worship leaders be paid a salary, health care benefits, etc. , for the service they provide?

I have been a worship leader now going on only 4 years. I play acoustic guitar and sing. I pick the
songs, mentor the team members, recruit new team members, play funerals, baptisms, and other
special events, co lead mens ministry, as well as several other things. I was welcomed with open arms from the people here, but have never asked, nor offered a paid position. I have a full time job which I have hated as it sent me under the knife recently for major back surgery. I am now 3 months post surgery and have to go back to my job. I'm praying that God will
work something else out, and that maybe He will strike it in the hearts and minds of our congregation
to offer me something so I will not have to continue to break my back. I don't think I will be able to
continue to do both as it is ever apparent that with the new hardware that is in my back, it is a
tremendous burden to work two jobs. One paid, and one an offering. I don't know what to do. I haven't talked to the Pastor yet. I know that this kind of thing could surely have a dividing factor and I don't want that. Please pray for us.

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Hey Joe. That's sounds like a tough spot.  Sorry to hear about your recent surgery as well. This is a tough question.  I have been doing worship for about 10 years (really consistently for about 7). I have been paid here and there for "guest worship gigs." When people ask me my "price" I always feel weird. I tell them if they feel like they want to do it, they can, if not, that is fine too. I always struggled with this idea of marketting myself in that sense. But this is strictly my journey and God takes us on different ones as He sees fit. I have also been a lead worship leader in churches (along with about 1-3 other leaders who rotate) while doing the full tie job thing. It is a lot. Lastly, I have "chased" after the full time worship job thing so that it is my only income.  What I have found for me, is that this isn't where God wants me right now (drawing a full time pay check). I say all of this to say, I can relate on some level to some of the things you're asking yourself when you lay down to sleep at night.  but like I said, this isn't my journey.  So do I think worship leaders can be paid and have their fulltime, only income job be worship? Yes. Salary, benefits, heck even vacation. :) I think yes and I don't think there is anything worng with it. I would ask about the make-up of your church? Who else is on staff? Childrens pastor? Youth pastor? Is the lead pastor the only one on staff? Do you know if the church has the ability to do it financiallyspeaking? Are you connected to a specific denomination and is there budget room / funding available there? Does part-time help you or will only full-time help you? I think you should go to the pastor and have the discussion. Do you have that kind of relationship with him that you think that would be a good conversation? I think unitl you have the discussion, you won't know your next steps.  Hope my ramblings help a little.  :) 

Hi Joe,

Me too - just had L2-L3 fused six weeks ago. That first 2 weeks was rough.

It's not uncommon to be in your position. Congregations value the pastor and his teaching/preaching/counseling/leadership well enough to pay him in many cases. But I find that it takes a much bigger church than average to start supporting worship ministry leaders. I'm not commenting on the good or wrong-ness of it, but it's very common. That being said, even paid positions aren't very rosy and I find a lot of pastors/youth ministers/worship leaders still need supplemental income. How big is your church?

Maybe you can find day work that doesn't break your back?  

There isn't an easy answer. Some churches have a large staff (although I don't think even those ones float without a huge amount of voluntary ministry) while others don't even pay the pastor.

Don't forget that there are probably others in the church struggling in their jobs. If you start receiving more than you contribute to the finances of the church that leaves a hole some of those other guys will need to fill up. God could be leading that way but you want to be sure because, without his provision, the maths doesn't add up.

From a distance, I think you definitely also need to consider the paid employment you are doing - it might be time to look for a different job, to look at reduced hours or to look for making some other alteration which will make it more positive. You might also need to consider scaling back your voluntary time at the church; far be it from me to dissuade service but, if you can't give it cheerfully, then maybe there are issues of balance to consider.

Above all though, make it a priority to talk to the pastor. Not only is it his job but he will also have a much greater handle on the time and place you are in.

Well let me say thanks to all of you for your inputs. I think it's a great thing for us to be able to come here and support each other. I talked to the pastor in which I do have a close relationship with. He had to lead worship while I was gone for surgery, and I was gone for about six weeks before I recovered enough to be back singing and playing. The worship part of the services for the most part were a disaster and thats puting it lightly. My pastor doesn't ever want me gone again. Lol. With that said he also told me a little about how things work in the missionary church that the pastor hires and fires those in paid positions. No matter what schooling, licensing, or lack thereof. He also said that we don't have it in the budget to be paying anyone else. Meaning anyone else besides him and the associate pastor. I'm an elder so I know wbat our budget is, I know how many besides me serve with no compensation, and I now know that the power for that lies on the pastor alone. It's a little disheartening. I certainly don't want to be a burden to the church and I love my pastor and all the people, but like I said, I know what the budget is and where things could be restructured so that we could be doing more to bless others monetarily speaking besides just the pastor. Am I letting the devil get a foothold here? Thanks for your input guys and I wish you the best on you recovery Stevo, back fusion is absolutely excrutiatintoyg. God bless you all.

Difficult.  To me it sounds like you need to get a decent job.

I've been a worship guitarist all my life (I should have said adult life, but my mum commented that I should have been born with a guitar in my hand) lead a worship team >10 years, and after a 3 year break now lead a worship team again and am responsible for leading worship 2 meetings a week. I don't expect (or want) to be paid for it and have no desire to be 'full time' in that way. Sure the church model in the US is very different from here, but I'm not sure it is helpful to view 'worship' as a potential career path. I'd also want to ask myself why other people that were committed to the church in less 'outfront' ministries weren't also expecting to be full time and being paid by the church.

With all respect, in your position I'd be asking myself how God might turn around my job situation. If you have a calling to be out and 'full time' then you need to be in faith over it, but this isn't what seems to be coming across in your original post. TBH I think the whole 'music minister' thing is used as bait & switch for most of us that serve in worship: a 'hope' that frequently leaves people feeling inadequate, un-fulfilled and disappointed with their lot.

Just re-read your followup post. Doesn't sound like the devil necessarily getting a foothold, but you need to be sure that what you're seeing in the finances is reality, rather than leaning the other guys out so you can get paid too. Once again I stand by the 'bait & switch' comment.

Re: there not being anyone else to lead when you're gone, what are you doing to train up guys to walk alongside, share the burden and replace you when you've moved on?

Toni, I don't know if you misunderstood what I was saying/asking, but what i was saying was that it's getting harder to do 2 full time jobs. As I said before, I've been doing this for about 4 years now and have never asked for anything  and many times spend my own money on things needed. So I don't really know why it is you feel the need to somewhat attack me. I came here for prayer and support from fellow "Leaders". But leaders don't tear each other down, instead they build each other up. You said you don't have the desire to be full time, so I guess maybe you feel like nobody else should be either.?.?.?.? I spend more time at the church and at home doing things for worship and the music then the pastors do on many occasions. As far as a career path, you must not know how many churches actually pay their worship leader and many others in their church, but they are vast. It can become a huge production/job and it can take up more time than a 40 hour week job if you put yourself into it wholeheartedly. Not saying those who don't spend that much time, aren't! BTW I don't remember saying anything about "expecting" to be paid!!!!

Not sure what you are saying with the whole bait and switch thing but God called me to this position and under the circumstances He called me He left no room for questioning that.

With my day job It must be great to have an outlook that other jobs are just hanging from the job tree, but in reality obama is kinda chopping that tree down huh? I have been praying about it for quite some time, and as stated before I came here looking for support and prayer. Also putting in resume's.

Shortly after I started at this church there was nobody on the worship team that could play an instrument and we lost a couple singers which left me on stage alone, with only the pastor to help with vocals. Imagine an acoustic guitar and two guys leading worship. It wasn't great. lol But over time God has brought us a few helpers. Everyone I have now or have had in the past on the team I have had to train, with no training myself. Everything I have learned including guitar was strictly on my own. Obviously God had plans for it. So I have taught 2 bass players, 2 drummers, and four or five singers along the way, but people move on, fall away from the church, etc. I have to remain the constant and have since I started. I play more services than both pastors combined and yet I feel like I have to defend myself here. Why is that? I would love to have people take my place even if it was once a month, but the sad truth is, people aren't always willing to step up. I think maybe you've got the impression that I somehow think I have my position locked down and don't want to get anyone else involved for fear of being replaced or something like that, but that couldn't be any further from the truth. Out of all the people I've trained, taught, mentored, I can't seem to get anyone to take my place. Not even for one Sunday a month. One of our other elders can play guitar, but he won't step up to the stage. Actually refuses. Hopefully you are starting to get the right picture here. 

Joe - I'm not trying to attack you in any way, so much as encouraging you to step back and re-evaluate some of the stuff in your post.

The bait & switch isn't a criticism of you or even about you particularly, but an observation of what sometimes happens based on the comments other guys have made at various times who've felt they might get to be 'full time paid MM' if they just 'do a little better' etc. The bait is the possibility of 'full time' and the switch is the reality that it (often) doesn't happen. Now if your faith is that you're called to be paid as the worship leader then it is entirely reasonable to look for God to be doing that.... but that wasn't the *impression* I got from your post (more one of desperation - 'if I go back to my old job then it will kill me').

As for bringing guys forward, I'm sorry my comments came over as criticism. Thanks for outlining your situation with other musicians - you might be surprised to find we have a lot in common in our situations. I'd be glad to pray for you.

And the job tree, not sure it's Obama particularly that's in control of it (and I'd reference Stevo's post below too). God has always provided when we've needed and knows what I can carry and what I can't. It seems to me that you need to see God's provision right now, whether in the form of work that won't kill you or something else that will pay the bills while allowing you to serve. Can I once again just encourage you to step back, re-evaluate what you do, where and how. I'm not criticising you in any way or telling you what you're doing is wrong, but I've a sense that He allowed you to get to the point where you HAD to stop so you could do that.

Guess I could have said words of comfort and affirmation that you deserve to be paid, but as one man of God to another I don't think that would honour you right now.

Toni,

As I was reading back over these posts, one thing stuck out. You had said it sounded to you like I needed to get a decent job. First of all, I've been praying about this for some time and I have what many would call a decent job right now especially in this economy, but I don't live with my mom in her basement and I have a family to support, so it's not like job's are just jumping at me. I have full benefits and the pay is ok. Something else was that I never said anything about "expecting" to be paid! Which is why I've been doing this for the last 4 years without it. Last but not least, I don't think you could ever go wrong with words of comfort and affirmation, do you? In fact, as a Christian that's really what we should be doing. Building up, not breaking down. As I said before I came here excited that I might find some people who understood what it was like for me, be able to lift me up in prayer, and maybe give me some insight as to what their experiences have been, but you seem to have taken a wrong turn somewhere. I don't think "honoring" me was your intentions from the start.

Joe - if you feel my intent was to pull you down then I'm sorry - that was never the idea and we're not crabs in a bucket.

Can you ever go wrong with words of comfort an affirmation? Certainly, and there are whole sections of the OT that talk about it. Maybe I misunderstood your original post and the whole thing went downhill from there? I don't know. Time for me to stop posting in your thread I think.

Could it be that you are doing too much on the worship leading front? I know that you had a strong sense of calling into this ministry and that you have clearly seen your abilities grow but it is possible to take over the brush and paint yourself into a corner. A verse which might come to mind is Ro 11:29 ("... for the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable") but that can't be true in quite the way many people initially read it or a lot of people would be stuck teaching junior Sunday School, which often seems to be a "rite of passage" ministry for many who to onto other roles in the church. Sometimes the calling of God is to move on or do things differently.

Are the people of God definitely blessed, encouraged and inspired by the fact you are stepping up to serve so often? Or are they forming the opinion that they don't want to commit to the worship team because it clearly demands so much more than they could possibly give while still honouring their other commitments? With the turnover you describe, do they remember the time when you started and didn't have your present competence and confidence?

On a forum geared towards worship leaders and leading worshippers, the temptation is to answer "yes, worship leaders should be treated like kings". I wonder, though, if that elder might actually be displaying a little more wisdom than you are giving him credit for? I'm assuming he probably also has a paying job and perhaps some family and other responsibilities on top of his role as elder; perhaps it is right that he doesn't spread himself even more thinly?

Do you see where I'm going with this?

I've thought about this one recently and it has occurred to me that one thing hasn't been mentioned - God is completely in control and if He has so ordained that a person make their living from ministry, no amount of faith or lack of faith will change that. It's a tough spot for Joe and I hope it turns around, but let's never forget that our circumstances are not a surprise or coincidence. I know I wast a lot of time trying to figure out how I can change things when they upset me, and the more important the situation is to me, the more I tend to fret over it. But in reality, it's wasted energy.

Stevo,

I thank God for your wisdom, honesty, and compassion for my situation. Even though we don't know each other, you show Christ's love through the words I read. Thank you man. I appreciate it more than you know. It's hard to find people who genuinely know and care about what it's like. God is good always and I know He has what's best for me in store. It's just hard to see it sometimes. After all when times get hard, and all my time is taken up, and it seems like I don't get any time with my wife and kids, It's hard not to be a little bit selfish with that time. I want to spend my time honoring God, but I think there has to be a balance, and something will have to give eventually. Thanks again. God be with you.

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