Should Church Musicians Be Paid?

By Victor Ochieng

It takes time, effort and resources to learn how to play music instruments or sing, musically. While some simply train informally, some pay tuition to train professionally in established institutions.

Church goers who possess musical talents and skills often participate in church services, especially during worship sessions. Although some do it voluntarily, there are those who are paid pre-negotiated amounts by the church.

Is it right?

There is the widely invoked argument that it’s costly to learn to play such instruments and, therefore, the musicians deserve to be paid. The author of an article published on Preyingnarcissist blog, a child of a church musician, thinks otherwise.

“My father, (a church musician) has played for several churches and gotten compensated for doing so every week. Do I agree with my father getting paid for his talent? No. I think it is disrespectful to God and a disservice to the body of Christ for someone to receive funds just to render up praise and worship in song,” the author says.

According to the author, if one goes to church to play music so as to be paid then they seriously need their hearts searched.

Church musicians can be placed in two categories – those who simply do it as a hobby and those who take it as a vocation. In the lives of many who sing or play musical instruments, music is only a small segment. Admittedly, there are those who rely on music for their livelihood, meaning they’re involved in music even beyond the church precincts.

The author notes that church isn’t a marketplace where people can go to hawk their talents. Whether one is serving on the praise and worship team or teaching in the Sunday school, service to the Lord should never be salaried. The Gospel of Matthew gives an account in which Jesus kicked out people who turned a temple of God into a marketplace. There is no difference between turning a place of worship into a literal market and selling skills.

As a Christian musician, your talent and skills should be used to glorify God. And while doing service to God, you shouldn’t be paid for it. That’s why churches only reimburse pastors whenever it’s necessary in the furtherance of the gospel truth. They’re not paid for the actual service rendered since that service is to God.

If you’re a musician, the author advises that instead of going to church to sell your talent, look for a band or some gospel musician and work with them to make money outside the church.