There are a lot of emotions that come into play when it comes to being paid for worship, or just about any other service/work performed at a church.
Some churches focus on “service” as a reason to not pay for worship leading (or a nursery leader, or an office person etc.) That may be due to sincere beliefs related to volunteerism and a person’s “commitment” to the church or the ministry. It may also be a way to accomplish all that a pastor wants to achieve when they are operating on a shoestring budget.
Many smaller churches only have the payroll to pay a few people and the pastors workload is enormous.
It may be time to evaluate what you want to do versus what you can do. This may seem contrary to moving forward in faith but I would encourage those in decision-making positions to pray about having key members of a ministry team do what they do only through volunteerism.
If you have never led worship you may think there’s not a lot to do other than play songs on a Sunday service but remember what it is you are really asking of this person to do and consider the number of hours it takes to be a “part-time” worship leader.
- Recruit others to play on the team and technical crew. (Sound lights etc.)
- Mentor others on the team not only musically but spiritually.
- Learn and teach others about the sound system in the church.
- Rehearse one night a week (or possibly early Sunday morning before services) and the organization of the rehearsal as well as the service.
- Song selection on a weekly basis which includes aligning the message with the worship. (I have found this to be one of the more time consuming tasks considering this happens all during the week)
- Communication of that song selection to all the participants.
- Sanctuary preparation in advance of the service.
- Organization and running of the services. (Keeping all the participants aware of their role and follow up)
- Tear down of equipment post service, or clean-up of the stage area.
- Other duties as assigned.
That does not sound like part time job to most people.
If the above workload takes 20 hours a week to complete and you pay someone a flat rate keep in mind the table below:
$100 a week = $5.00 an hour.
$150 a week = $7.50 an hour.
$200 a week = $10.00 an hour.
$250 a week = $12.50 an hour.
$300 a week = $15.00 an hour.
It may be hard to determine the amount you pay a worship leader when you consider your overall budget or the amount others are or are not being paid in your organization, and there is the possibility that your salary when divided out over the hours you put in does not look much better, but you should try to remove any comparison from the decision.
That said, a budget is a budget and the time to start talking about this is before your annual budgets are due.
You should consider the ability of the person you are hiring to do the job as well. A master craftsman may be more valuable (in pay scale) than an apprentice because they have learned their craft and shown a history of being able to produce at a higher level.
This does not mean only look to the inexperienced. This requires much prayer to determine. If you value what this person does it will show in what you decide to pay them to some extent.
Some churches will hire only “Independent contractors” for this type of work and others will pay a set fee. Whatever you do, consult with your churches attorney or tax specialist. You are not exempt from labor laws.
That does not mean you don’t have other options. You may be able to offer things other than money that may be appealing to a worship leader/pastor. Mentorship, ministry education or helping them realize other goals may be of value.
Don’t wait for the worship leader to bring this up. Let them know what you can or cannot pay as early as possible to avoid a poor outcome.
Pat Boylan is a guest worship leader for small to medium sized churches in the Sacramento California area. By day, Pat is a HR Professional with a background in people development, successions planning, and talent management, which he uses to help pastors source and interview potential worship leaders or musicians.