I have a friend who is an electric guitar player. He’s a really good one too!
He’s the guy that will completely shred a Telecaster at Guitar Center, draw a crowd, and then hand the guitar to a beginner and proceed in giving them praise while they play Smoke On The Water. He’s one of those guys that just gets it. For him, music isn’t about showing off. It’s about being a part of something bigger than himself and giving others the chance to shine.
His attitude makes him irreplaceable at the church he serves. He Loves Jesus and adds value to everyone on the worship team. I saw him a while back at a Starbucks and we chatted for a bit. I asked him how things were going at his home church (that I shall not name). He told me he had to find another home church.
Every week he would go to a mid-week rehearsal, play a Saturday night service, and play 3 Sunday morning services. He did all this while working a full-time job and taking a couple college classes. He told me he loved his church and loved the people…but it just got to be too much.
He did ask the Worship Leader to be scheduled less or just have some help with gas money…but it was denied. The worship leader told him he “just didn’t have the budget for it” and continued to schedule him every week. I asked him “Your worship leader can’t afford to pay you $20 a week for 15 hours of your time?” He shrugged, laughed, and said: “it is what it is”. He said he tried to stay for a bit longer…but he had to leave due to unrealistic expectations that were placed on him.
I wish I could say this was a one-time occurrence, but I’ve heard this same story from multiple friends and acquaintances over the years. The sad reality is that many churches have a nasty habit of overusing and underpaying their people. Sure they can get away with it for a season…but those hard-working musicians will eventually stop showing up.
If you want to keep your hard-working musicians that serve above and beyond, you have to pay them something. You may say…I can’t afford it! That’s okay…you can pay them in other ways. There are things other than money that you can give your people as payment for all that they do. You can always:
- Take them out to lunch.
- Take them out to coffee.
- Give them a gift card.
- Offer them a few weeks off.
- Acknowledge what they do publically.
- Write them a thank you card (handwritten).
When you don’t “pay” your musicians for the time and effort that they put in diligently every week, you are effectively telling them that what they bring to the table isn’t worth anything. The musician community is a tight group… and people talk. You may get away with burning out a musician or two…but word travels fast when you don’t give adequate “payment” to the people who serve on your team. Eventually, your church will develop the stigma of being the place where musicians come to die. Do you really want musicians to die? Metaphorically that is!
It doesn’t matter if you lead out a church of 100 or 5,000. You NEED to pay your musicians that serve diligently and regularly. Simple as that.
When you pay your musicians with money, gifts, time, or with a thank you card, it speaks volumes. You will find yourself having less turnover and will build cohesiveness from the inside out.
Prepare For Worship. A resource provided to you by the easy-to-use worship planning software WorshipTrac.