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Passing the Money Test


Author: Steve Reed
Leadership Category: , ,

Posted September 9, 2014 by


or many around the world worship leading has never been about the money – simply because they have and never will be paid a dime for their dedicated service. However if you have been, are about to be, or someday want to be one of the fortunate souls to live the dream and be compensated financially for your services, if you haven’t already, you will run smack dab into the money test. Will you pass or fail? Be careful because it’s a slippery slope from paid faithful servant to embittered church employee.

The path to a paid position at the church usually starts with a lot of volunteering. The increasing demand on your time or the church finances became sufficient enough to bring you on ‘staff’. This intent to bless is exciting but the real test has just begun as the convergence of two distinctive areas of your life and thinking have instantly become one – your job and your ministry. Whether or not we should, most people think very differently about our job and our ministry, our pastor vs. our employer (who incidentally, just became the same person). Often what we would do for free now falls under the scrutiny of dollars per hour.

This article may seem weird for a small group of churches that understand that they are hiring employees and for some, worship leading has always been a job – you applied, your were hired, and this is simply how you make your living. There is nothing wrong with that if everyone is on the same page about it. What’s painful to watch is the attitudes of once-grateful worship leaders who now feel their pastor just doesn’t do enough for them. Even more excruciating is the disappointment of pastors who thought they were blessing their faithful people but their money unintentionally turned shepherds into hirelings.

You yourself may have unintentionally become a hireling and not even know it or even know what one is. Jesus gives us the definition in John 10:12 “But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep” (KJV).

To add to the challenge of the money test is that it’s often difficult to tell how well you are doing — so here are a few questions to check your heart and see if you have a ministry or a job in ministry.

The Money Test:

Would you attend the church you work at if you did not get paid to be there?

Is the pastor of the church your pastor? Do you have a pastor?

If you were offered more money elsewhere would you take it? Have you already thought about it?

Do you tithe to the church you work at? Do you tithe?

Do feel you should be paid more?

Do you feel the pastor makes too much money?


Well how did you do? I’m not saying it’s easy to keep a right perspective on all of those topics at the same time but it’s important. Like it or not, how you view money in ministry will greatly determine how far you get in your calling and the level of frustration you will endure along the way. Luke 16:11 (NLT) “and if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?”

The thing about God’s test is that even if you fail — you don’t get out of it. You will be stuck going around the same mountain again and again until you either get it figured out or get so frustrated that you quit. So how do you keep yourself from complaining in the desert of your money test? Here are a few things to help you stay connected even when there’s money involved.

There are a lot of other people who have never gotten paid and you could work a lot of other places every day but until you would do it for free you will probably never be paid more or at all?

Seek first the kingdom
Do what God’s called you to do first and then the money will come. It’s simply not worth the money to be out of God’s will – don’t chase a paycheck.

God is your source not your job
Even when it’s the church. Working for the church doesn’t mean you should be poor or go without but God has more ways to bless you than you sometimes think. It’s where real need meets the need for real faith.

Have a pastor
Preferably it’s the one you work for. Learn how to separate the person, from the employer, from the one who is anointed to hear from God on your behalf.

Volunteer for something outside of your department
Most everyone else in your church works a full time job and then finds time to serve at the church. Do the same and keep connected to how it feels.

To be perfectly honest some worship leaders will never be under shepherds and frankly don’t care to be so – on the flipside there are ‘pastors’ who will never be pastors to their employees. My advise to you is to know which one you are, who you work for, and check your heart to see if you are passing this round of the money test.


Steve and his wife, Shawn, travel full time to serve the body of Christ in the area of worship. They lead worship, compose and record, provide personalized on-site training for teams and churches, and teach on the subject of worship in English and Spanish.

www.steveandshawn.com   – English

www.steveandshawn.com/es  – Español





    This is just EXACTLY what is happening to me. After 13 year for being volunteers in my church, I decided to be a full time worship leader and worship pastor.
    Everything you mention above is like reading my own story.

    Thank you so much for sharing this precious insight with us. It helps me to understand deeper.


    Although it is always good to question your motivation for any aspect of ministry, I will always be of the opinion that every worship leader should be paid no matter what the size of the congregation. Every ingredient of a worship service matters. They are not just fillers in preparation for a 40-50 minute sermon.

    I am employed at a church that rarely has more than 30 people in attendance and YES, I get paid. Leading worship is more than just selecting out a few songs, or at least it should be. If a worship leader is not spending close to 20 hours a week in preparation for the worship service then they are not a worship leader. They are a band leader.

    I would like to point out holes in some of the questions you posed but that would stray from what really matters and what is on a serious decline all over America, and that is worship leaders that are expected to work for free because the church is crying poverty. If my simple church of 20-30 members can pay me, I challenge any church to show me why they are not equipped to offer the same for a vital member of their church.


      …not to poke… but what do you do for 20hrs a week? I have 6-8 vocalist and 8 musicians. I am also responsible for the A/V side Do you compose your own music, edit/produce the A/V products, develop/create/set the stage/sanctuary for worship? Does your 20hrs include your personal spiritual prep time??


    Thanks for a very relevant article. So many of us volunteer and/or part-time WLs feel like everyone else works for a mega church and is a full-time compensated employee. I’m one of those who volunteered for many years and eventually took a “paid” position, but still work a full-time day job trying to balance the career and the part-time church job. It’s frustrating not being able to devote more time to the ministry, and wishing it paid enough to do full-time, but you put it back into perspective. Do I feel like what I do is worth more than I get paid? Yes, but that’s the volunteer aspect of the “job.” Would I attend the church? Absolutely!

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