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A question came into Worship Ministries this week and it got me thinking because I am sure that many churches are bumping into this. 

When it comes to paying our congregational musicians, it seems we have two scenarios: 

  1. Churches who still have a single accompanist playing for each service, pianist or organist, who prepares the prelude, offertory, and postlude in addition to all the congregational songs.  For even the most accomplished musician, this takes thought, preparation, and practice, along with reliance on many years of lessons and the ongoing purchase of music (all good reasons for them to be paid). Note: I am not questioning the payment of these folks. 
  2. Churches that have fully embraced the use of a volunteer praise band/worship team. If the church is large enough, they may have a paid worship director/planner/leader.  

What do churches do who find themselves somewhere between the two scenarios above? Some churches still assign an accompanist to each service who gets paid for his/her service but once the service is planned find that that person actually plays very little -maybe only the prelude/postlude, or only as a part of the worship team.  Do you still pay this accompanist the same amount as if they had prepared the whole service?  If they only play with the worship team how do the other members feel about only the keyboardist being paid? 

Has your church wrestled with this question? If so, what has been your solution? 

It seems to me that the answer to the question needs to do at least these two things: 

  1. It needs to be just for all musicians involved in leading worship as well as others who volunteer their time elsewhere in the church
  2. It needs to show our support of and appreciation for those who do lead us in worship (and recognize that typically the amount that they receive does not reflect an hourly rate for their preparation.)

I am also curious to know how much you are paying your accompanists.    

I'd love for you to comment on this post, or, if you prefer, you can email [email protected] with your answer to any of these questions or with a question of your own. 


Joyce, thanks for making the points that musicians have (almost always) had years of lessons and practice and have to put in time planning. And that they must purchase music on their own, which is very expensive. Many years ago in a previous church I would hear people argue that Sunday school teachers are not paid, so organists should also not expect compensation. That falls on deaf ears for those of us who have studied music and paid for lessons since childhood.

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