I recently received an email from a pastor who asked me this question:
I need some general insight as we start looking for a worship leader for our church plant. What price range should I ask for from my finance/leadership team as I seek to hire a worship leader? Assuming less than 5 years experience leading in a church… If the person is full time? What range of salary is the norm starting out? What if he is part time? And if you only had one service per week – and an odd evening event (good Friday; Christmas Eve) – how many hours a week would you need if it is part time? 15 hours? 20 hours? 25 hours? Thanks.
I wrote him back and thought it might be helpful to post here:
Here’s the best way I know how to lay something like this out. Listed in order of priority:
- Weekend worship leading: 3 hours for 1 Sunday service. 5 hours for 2 services. Additional 2 hours per service.
- Rehearsal leading: 3 hours.
Stopping here, you have a 6 – 10 hour worship leader. You can pay this person a weekly stipend of somewhere in the range of $250. He’s pretty much leading songs.
- Basic administrative duties: PowerPoint presentations (1 hour), service outlines (.5 hour), chord charts (1 hour), making copies (.5 hour), scheduling worship team members (.5 hour), equipment set up (1 hour), emails /phone calls (2 hours).
Now your worship leader is 15 hours a week and you’re looking at paying him hourly. $20 – 25 per hour, I guess. He’s leading songs and doing some admin.
- Ministry development: Recruit, audition musicians. Have monthly worship team gatherings. Spend time listening to new music. Read up on theology, music/worship theology and goings-on, etc. This can all average out to 5 hours a week.
Now your worship leader is 20 hours a week and you can still pay him hourly but you’ll probably have to throw in benefits.
The next steps take your worship leader closer to full-time and needing a salary.
- 5 hours: worship service planning. He’s reading the passages, reading your transcript, taking time to intentionally pray and mull over what songs are going to feed people most effectively and help them respond to God’s word and presence. This might not take this long some weeks. It might take more other weeks. A more full-time worship leader has the “luxury” of devoting more time to getting the set-list “right” – not just pick from a bank of songs.
- 5 hours: participate in weekly staff/pastoral/service debrief/service planning meetings.
- 5 hours: Music-centric work such as arranging, writing, practicing, recording, using the art-area of his brain. This will keep him sane, keep things creative, and benefit your gatherings.
- 5 hours: Ministry-centric work such as preparing teachings for worship team, meeting with worship team members for lunch/coffee, long-term planning and calendar management, and working in whatever area he is skilled in (this depends on the person and his passion).
- Misc. hours: Other administrative and time-eating exercises such as: more emails, finance/budget management, overseeing the AV aspects, managing liturgical aspects, special services, assignments given by the pastor, etc.
With less than 5 years worship leading experience, this person should expect to be paid $30 – 45,000, depending on the area of the country, church size, his gifting level, experience, musical skill, education, etc. If he’s good, and if the church starts growing, and he has any sort of family, that will need to get close to $45 – 60,000 really quickly, again, hugely depending on the median income of where the church is located, eventually going over.
If I can be any help to you, or your church as you think through how to structure a worship leader’s position, please feel free to contact me through this blog (contact me).