The New Norm? (Part 2)

In my last blog post, The New Norm, I asked if compensating band members in today’s worship culture is similar to compensating the pianist and organist from 20-25 years ago (and more).  I also was curious as to the impact on the church both financially and philosophically.  

For the purpose of continuing this discussion, I’d like to start with a handful of presuppositions based on experience and input from fellow music ministers.

 

  1. The “competition” for skilled band members (those who play guitar, bass, drums, etc.) seems to be more intense in metropolitan areas as opposed to less densely populated parts of the country–perhaps this is due to a greater number of larger churches.
  2. Band members who were already engaged in the life of the church and then were subsequently provided the opportunity to play an instrument more often than not served in a volunteer capacity and did not expect compensation. They see their playing as a ministry for their home church rather than just a “gig”.
  3. Band members who began playing in worship while not yet a member of the church typically expected to be compensated. While they may perceive their playing to be a ministry, their investment into the ministry is based on other factors.
  4. The number of hours expected from band members is less than that of the more traditional pianist/organist arrangement.
  5. Larger churches seem more comfortable with the idea of hiring a band.

 

So, here are some conclusions that have come from recent conversations and input:

 

  1. It appears that for those churches who still employ a choir format, the use of a paid pianist/organist is viable even if the remaining members of the band are volunteer.
  2. If band members are already present in the worship format or the addition of these instrumentalists would be welcome, one idea is to grow them from the student ministry. In fact, one of my ministry friends paid for lessons for his student guitarist and drummer with the understanding that they play for student worship on Wednesday nights.  This costs less than having to simply pay someone to play and also was a huge investment into the lives of those students!
  3. It is ok to start small–one guitar, some type of rhythm, and keyboard will work. You don’t have to go from keyboards only to full rhythm section.
  4. Make sure the congregation is prepared for this change and handle it carefully!
  5. If paying band members is an option, consider how that may change the personality of the group or the relationships within the group.
  6. If paying band members is a necessity, then endeavor to engage the players and families into the life of the church.
  7. For all worship leaders, some type of personal conduct expectation should be in place since paid or unpaid, they will represent the church and the music ministry.

What are your thoughts on this matter?  Is it inevitable that the primary musicians in our churches will ultimately be paid?  If so, does this undermine the ministry/service aspect of the volunteer within the church or does it simply reiterate the fact that often, paying for skill is worth the cost?  If paying instrumentalists is a necessity, where does the money come from and how are the decision-makers convinced to provide more resources?

Comments

  1. Of course they should be paid. They are committed to “every” Sunday and that is a large commitment plus the rehearsals each week. Some may prefer not to be paid and that is ok, too. I have been playing for church since I was 12 years old. The church paid me $5.00 a month and I really appreciated it. That was then, but now churches should pay a fair salary, just as it says in the scriptures.

    • Jeneane–thanks so much for your input–what appears to be a sticking point for many churches is availability of funds to pay multiple people plus in most churches, the keyboardists have other responsibilities such as choir, etc. Part of the evolution seems to be regarding the band with the same treatment as keyboardists. Does your church employ an entire band or just keyboardists?

Speak Your Mind

*