A Worship Leader’s Job Description and Pay

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).

45 thoughts on “A Worship Leader’s Job Description and Pay”

  1. Thanks for the info. I have been looking for some advice in this area. When a Worship Leader is working approx. 10 hours would a church pay them as an independent contractor? When should they be seen as a part-time employee?

    1. Hi Jeff. This would depend on what’s feasible for your church and what you think is best. If I understand correctly, an independent contractor is paid for their hours, and that’s about it. The advantage is: no benefits, no vacation, etc. But the disadvantage is: easy for them to back out, weak connection to the body, etc. Even just calling someone “part-time”, when they might also not yet accrue vacation or receive benefits (10 hours a week is usually in this category) will help give a worship leader more of a sense of connectedness and responsibility. Titles are overrated, but they’re important at the same time, especially for someone who’s going to be in leadership.

  2. I’ve been working as a volunteer now for three years as our church was going into a re-building phase. We are now on solid footing again and I am about to ask to be compensated for my time. Some weeks I put in more than 40 hours…..some weeks I may put in 25-30. It depends on the time of the year and whether special events are planned. Always, when I know I am going to be away (such as when I had surgery last year) I have worked late hours preparing the lineup and getting the music ready ahead of time so that everyone is still prepared. I am responsible for much more than just selection of songs and leading worship….I am also responsible for seeing that the Powerpoint is planned (I used to have to do this myself but thank God we now have someone who can help with this), various secretarial duties, finding and incorporating special video clips, responsive reading (basically the entire order of worship), special guest appearances, etc. I am also expected to serve as the chairman of our worship committee. I have no formal music training other than the fact that I have been involved in church music my entire life. I feel that in these three years I have proven myself and my abilities and dedication. We are a congregation averaging in the 80’s in the southeast. Is a salary request of $12,000 with two weeks paid vacation an unreasonable request? (I have a degree in education and at my last job as a Christian editor I made $37,500.)

    1. Hi Shirley,

      Wow, you do a lot! Thank you so much for faithfully serving your church.

      If your congregation was averaging in the 200s, I would say that your salary request is ridiculously low. But with a congregation averaging in the 80s, your request is realistic, more than fair, and not nearly what you’re worth! Two weeks paid vacation is also fair, but I would be more interested in how many Sundays off that equals for you. Every worship leader in the world needs at least 4 Sundays a year when he or she isn’t leading worship in order to not go insane, in my opinion.


  3. I cannot believe what I am reading. I would never want to receive or attend a church where the worship leader was paid.

    I could never worship for money. I know this is common today, but I could never do it.

    I could however accept money if it was given to me as an offering. I could step out in faith that I would be compensated, but I could not ever ask for money to worship my God.

    Phil Fischer

    1. I don’t understand this logic at all. Why is it that people think musicians should work for free? Would the church expect a plumber or roofer to work for free? I have studied music and am currently in school for it. I have spent most of my life perfecting my craft.

      I’ll go further and say the musicians should get paid as well if they are talented and put in the time. People are not worshiping for money. That is a ridiculous notion. We live in a real world where we have to get jobs and pay bills. If you want God’s best then pay your musicians so that they can earn a living with the gifts God endowed them with.

      With this logic you may as well not compensate the pastor either because he’s just doing it for the money.

    2. Hi Phil,

      You shouldn’t think of it as getting paid to worship God. We were all blessed with special gifts and talents. Some of us have been given talents to lead the people of God to his presence. We live in the world and in the world you have bills and expenses and families to support. Being a worship leader is not a Sunday job (not sure if you are aware of this) it takes a lot of time to prepare, rehearsals, prayer, planning, studying. What we do for God is much more valuable than anything we do for the world. Why then is it always a problem for Christians when some one makes a living using the gifts and talents God gave them to use for his people. The Levites were provided for by the people. They worked for God and had their own families to feed. Besides, anything done for the expansion and benefit of the Kingdom is priceless. Any amount of money would not be enough to buy what God himself has deposited inside His anointed. Money is always an issue when it comes to Christians. I understand some of Pastors and Leaders have abused and taken advantage of the sheep, but this is where discernment comes in. You need to pray and let God reveal to you his take on all this.

      God bless you my brother,


  4. Salary is to be used as a agreed compensation for an employee’s work for hire. Worship leaders should not be paid if they are not working and only leading songs. However, if this person is directing a band while leading the congregation, we must look at this differently. I agree with a lot of your breakdown of salary, time, and even the range. I do believe that having a good worship leader is crucial for a healthy, relevant, and effective church. Normally, the first thing that is observed by a visitor is the music and/or worship leader. I know many people that have left the second they hear music that doesn’t please their ears. Yes, this is fickle and unfair, as well as judgmental, but it is what it is. People are at different places in their maturity, so we must present our best every service and every event and every interaction with young believers or non-believers. Paying a worship leader handsomely does not send a bad message if they are truly working behind the scenes and making things excellent for the ministry and presentation/service. I truly believe this statement…worship (or the music portion of worship) ushers in the presence of God and opens the heart of those that are listening…and paves the way for the Word of God to be active. With bad music, people’s hearts may be turned away from what is said. If the preacher/speaker is anointed and gifted, as well as charismatic, he or she may be effective either way. It is better to not have to force a strong transition and rely upon good words from the mouth of an orator week in and week out. I just feel there should be a good flow from worship to the Word of God. In order to accomplish this, excellence must be part of the prerequisite for worship leaders and teams. Our church does not pay worship leaders…we pay musicians and band directors the work they put in and hours they give toward that excellence. Worship leaders are only paid if they are on staff or come in and give some hours when the amount of work adds up too much for the current worship staff. We run from 3000-4000 at our church and have 7 worship leaders, none of whom are paid. The exception to this might be my assistant who is paid for his efforts during the week in preparation for services. I do pay him for directing the 2 or 3 bands he directs in the services, but only because he is truly working…not worshiping only. If he was just playing keyboard, guitar, etc, then he might be given a small gift from the church weekly. But, he is on staff, and we treat that differently. His 20 hours a week is Monday through Friday. The other hours are him volunteering time and we stipend his directing differently than his staff position…although he is still under one pay scale per hour. I hope this makes sense. I believe a good Music Director who is also the worship leader should be given more compensation than a Music Director. If they are playing many roles of leadership for the church, it is important to look at them just like the Senior Pastor. Does a tithing member of a church feel they are contributing to a Senior Pastor’s salary? Yes. They must…that is how money is brought into the church (most of the time). Is a Pastor “paid” for their leadership Monday through Friday? Or does Sunday morning count? I believe their leadership directly influences the church by how well they convey the messages weekly. Each service they preach is very important. Lives are even at stake in some cases. It must be taken very seriously…souls rely upon good, relevant, effective messages that engage the listener each week. Otherwise, the health of the church and consequently the growth of the church diminishes slowly until certain failure or closure. A worship leader gives their energies equally in a service and sometimes prepares just as much as a speaker. Many times, MORE energy is used when leading worship than speaking. Many people look at singing as a hobby. But, singing and leading others into God’s presence are very different things. Let’s get real here…let’s make sure Worship Leaders are given a lot of love and respect, especially if they are not paid well or if at all. It is a thankless, criticized position in the church that should be taken very seriously. Don’t be afraid to compensate a worship leader, but remember that worship leaders are not rock stars and the second anything like that shows its face, the devil comes in to steal, kill, and destroy your ministry. Don’t let money create pride in your artists…it is the number one killer of ministries across the globe…pride.

  5. Phil: I was not in any way, shape or form asking to be compensated for worshiping. If that is what you gleened from my post then you are mistaken. I was devoting many hours to service and my duties were anything having to do with our worship service. It was not simply song leading and I am certainly not one to try to magnify myself. My heart is truly for the Lord and His glory. Tell me….how many years have you worked 30-40 hours a week and expected no compensation whatsoever? Too often, just because it is a church job, we are expected to give our time for nothing. No one complains about paying a secretary (which by the way, were some of my duties). I believe that worship is an integral part of ministry. I believe the Bible addresses the need to take care of the needs of our ministers. Sorry you took this so negatively.

    1. I did not take it negative. I meant no disrespect at all.

      I just feel differently about this than most. Let me try and explain:

      If you go to http://www.myspace.com/philfischermusic you will see I was the most downloaded artist in 2011. Probably never heard of me before huh?

      I have almost 17 million hits, more than the top 5 Christian artists combined, and never will you ever hear my music on the radio. Why? Because I won’t pay them the $112K they want to spin my music on Christian radio. That is the way it’s done. That’s Christian radio. Every song you hear has been bought and paid for.

      I also choose to give my music away for free. I don’t make a dime off of it. I spend around 80K on an album, only to give it all away. Why? Because I am on the far end, the very far end, of the spectrum of worship. I feel it’s God’s word and it should be for free.

      I feel that we should pay our own way like Paul, and try and use our gifting’s to bring as many people to Christ as we can. I am not invited to the “christian conferences” and or the “get together’s”.

      Sometimes I go into these large church conferences, with the paid worship team, loud music, lights, action, and I don’t feel the Holy Spirit. I go into a small church in Kansas City, or Seattle, or Portland, or Germany and some girl on a beat up guitar is hammering out a song in the spirit and I cry.

      Don’t listen to me or take my advice. I am still living in the time of David. I want to worship the Lord for free forever.

      If someone gives me an offering I take it, but I never will accept a salary for my music.

      1. Hi Phil, You are absolutely right about the CCM industry. In many ways it is more corrupt than the secular music industry. I’ve been wading through the crap myself for over 15 years. However, to equate that with paying a worship pastor/director is not quite fair. Again, you are right. the gospel is free and there for everyone. And worship is not something we should be paid for…if we were that would not be true worship. nobody is paying anybody to worship…I hope! What a worship director/pastor is paid for is what happens behind the scenes: the administration, the planning, the study. We’re not talking about someone who just get’s up on sunday morning and sings a few songs that he took 5 minutes to throw together. Do you also, think that it is wrong to pay our head pastors? because, to me, it’s the same thing.

        I think it’s fantastic that you give your music away for free. But I’m guessing you have a job, in which you make money to pay your bills somehow? truly being a worship pastor/director is something that can easily eat up enough time and energy for a full time job. I am a part time worship director and i find it extremely hard to juggle my full time job, with worship planning duties, and family responsibility. If I want to bring glory to God with my worship I feel I need to put int he hours of planning and work to make it as good as it can be…but that’s more hours away from my family when I already have a full time Job as well. So I don’t think it’s out of line at all to compensate a worship director for all their hard work. again…not compensating for worship, but for the work that goes into making a worship service happen. totally different things.

        And as a side note. I would suggest that when we don’t feel the Holy Spirit move during worship, it has more to do with ourselves than it does the leader. The worship leader can’t make the Holy Spirit move. We don’t have that kind of control over God…all we can do is worship and hope people will join in. It’s our own fault if we let things distract us from worship. I do this all the time. because I’m a musician I find myself judging or critiquing the worship band instead of worshipping.

        just wanted to share my thoughts. God bless!

      2. Good for you, Phil. Thanks for the commercial about how good you are. I’m totally unimpressed.

        And no one uses myspace anymore.

  6. (iPhone issues.Sorry.) I left my home state to fill such a need and I received a housing allowance to start which eventually was increased a bit. I did this for six years, but eventually my family of five and I had to move on. It was ambitious for the church to do this and I was able to do much for the church in many ways, but money became a real issue. I was a missionary for those six years essentially and our support ran out. I believe it’s okay for a church to pay it’s ministers and pastors a salary, even if they are “just worship leading.”

  7. Wow. My jaw nearly dropped to the floor when I read your initial suggested salary. $250/week? [Insert hysterical laughter…]
    I am a part-time Worship Leader in a small Ohio church (avg. attendance: 75-80). Between worship planning/preparation/practice, producing the bulletin, Powerpoint and a monthly newsletter, and leading one service on Sunday morning, I put in a solid 10 hours (sometimes closer to 12) per week. My pay? Less than 20% of your suggestion. The Director of Music at my church (who directs the choir, plays the organ & piano, and contributes to worship planning/preparation/practice, for a total of about 10 hours per week) makes less than half of your suggestion.
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in this for the money. For the 10 years prior to accepting my current position, I was a volunteer choir director at another slightly larger church. There, I put in closer to 20 hours per week, planning all music for their traditional service, rehearsing and directing the choir, leading worship on Sunday morning, reviewing/purchasing choir music, maintaining a music library, and supervising the organist/choir accompanist (who, coincidentally, was paid). After about 7 years of doing all this voluntarily, I approached the personnel committee chair about the possibility of a salary. He was very supportive of my request ($100/week) and it seemed a done deal. After waiting 10 months for an answer, when I asked again, I was told that if they paid me, they’d have to pay this person and that person and basically anyone else in leadership. (Just a side note, the person who replaced me at that church when I left lasted one choir season…she wasn’t willing to do that much work for free).
    When I accepted my current position, my pay was $50/week. Last spring, all church staff (the pastor, Director of Music and myself) took a 15% pay cut to help reduce a budget deficit.
    So I guess I’m just wondering how in the world a church the size of mine could possibly pay the kind of money you’re suggesting? And what is such a church to do when they can’t find someone like myself willing to accept much, much less for the effort?

    1. Hi Janelle,

      Thanks so much for faithfully serving your congregation!

      My post was written in response to a pastor who has a congregation of 300+. For a 10-hour-a-week worship leader to be paid $250 a week in that kind of church is fair.

      In your case, with a congregation of 75-80 people, a budget deficit, and your role being a part-time one, then you’re right, $250 per week is not realistic or even possible. Most churches in that position would not pay anyone other than the pastor. To be paid anything is very kind of them.

      You are doing the hard and important work of serving a small congregation. I know you’re not doing it for the money! God will use you for his glory and the building up of his church. Thank you for what you do.


  8. Hi, thanks so much for this article. The takeaway for me was the description of an appropriate expectation per # hours for a W.L.
    Many churches could benefit from this breakdown. Many people don’t understand the time that it takes to really “craft” a service (songs, scripture, themes, other elements) and expect to have some guy come in and throw it together in an hour and it be “amazing”.

    Churches who “get it” and are able to invest in a full-time worship leader will benefit from his/her personal growth and thoughtful leadership. Not every church has that luxury, and many folks are serving as volunteers or (very) part-time, and I applaud them for their willingness to give it there best, but it’s tough to do all of these things (manage team members, communicate w/ pastor, know all about A/V, etc.) in a few extra hours during a given week.

    Thanks for the insights!

  9. for those that disagree that worship leaders should be paid, I have to ask… Do you think the pastor of the church shouldn’t be paid? What about the admin assistant or the janitor? What about the youth or children’s pastors? We have no problem paying their salary, why do we hesitate to pay the worship leader???

    Being a great worship leader requires training and even schooling, just like a pastor. We have to study music AND theology, and then in the workplace have to be good administratively, organizationally and relationally – that’s a lot of skills happening under one job description! That is a position that the church community should support financially as they support the pastor and the secretary for example.

    And in my opinion, worship isn’t something that happens only in the church service on a Sunday morning… it’s a way of life. If we’re living rightly as Christians, we’re living life at home, at work, at play, all with a worshipful attitude. So the issue isn’t that somebody is getting paid to worship because their whole life is dedicated to worship, even off the clock! We’re paying for someone to do a very important job – to thoughtfully and carefully organize musical worship so that we have a place to come and let go on Sunday mornings and let the Holy Spirit in. We raise up leaders and give them authority to lead us, and in return we, as their church communities take care of their financial needs. That is, to me the purpose of giving to the church – we entrust the church with our money to dispurse accordingly, and we have to trust that money going to our worship leaders is well-dispersed.

    1. Very well put. It’s the same in the secular world too. People seem to have this idea that people who play music or do art, are having fun and should not be paid. I have had countless people ask me to come and play at their church 7-10 hours away, for free! Now i see the value in donating time where and when you can, but some people have a really hard time understanding how hard it is that worship pastors work. It’s not all candy and rainbows. There’s arrangement, song choice, training, mentoring younger musicians, and then the countless hours of rehearsal to make that tight, beautiful sounding music look effortless.

  10. Thanks for sharing this info. I have been asked to take on a position and was wondering what the realistic workload would be and compensation should be.

  11. Thank you for this post, and thank others for such inspirational comments. I’m also an “all music” man, playing piano with congregation and leading a worship band (6 persons). I see my efforts, like an offering to my God, and I do it for free, ’cause my Church is more small than you’re all who wrote here (it’s about 35-40 people). I have a family (2 children) and a full time job, that needs a lot of time. Now I’m thinking that I’ll be happy to help the Church to grow, and since it will be bigger than 200-250 people, I would prefer to leave my default job, and to become a full time payd worship leader (including all that stuff with training band, choosing songs, printing copies, preparing power points). But until than, I’m sure it’s a long way… otherwise, It would be much easier for me (and for each of you) to find a church which is already big enough to pay for all the worship work, but, I think, there is an issue of faith also, and I’m counting myself as a little corner stone, in the building of this small church, on that someone can rely…
    I know that I should pray more for more wisdom and power to do all well, and I have faith that God will take care for sure of my and your circumspection.

  12. I very much appreciate the post and all the replies here. Interesting and informative. I serve as the pastor of a small church (70-100) in the Pacific Northwest. We’ve been on that slow, downward slide for many years despite deeply committed people and an outward focus into our community. Our music is definitely a weak link in our worship. We still have a good choir which, honestly, is mainly a blessing for the older members.
    Our “worship teams” lack a coordinated music approach; we have no percussion, only minimal keyboard and about 3 guitarists who rotate depending on the Sunday. For several years we’ve sought and prayed for gifted musicians and a volunteer leader who could bring things together. We would line people up only to have them bail out at the last minute, not because of troubles with our church, but financial difficulties. So, in order to lead us in new worship directions and develop a more cohesive approach to our music ministry, we recently allocated a small sum – $5000/year – for a (very) part time worship music coordinator/leader. I know this is a pittance, and of course there were some who said we shouldn’t pay anything. But if we are to move in some new directions, we need outside help.
    My question here is this: Since we are only offering this small salary, how should be best utilize this new person? What advice do you have about how we should allocate their time? We have only one Sunday morning service, so I’m thinking that we should “expect” about 5 hours a week – 2.5 hours rehearsal and worship prep; 2.5 hours on Sunday. We have others to do the song input for the computer, etc. Thoughts? Other consideration and advice? Thank you!

    1. Hi Curtis,

      Maybe no one replied to you, but I feel your pain. It’s not easy having excellent music in this situation, but it is possible.

      I have a couple suggestions (even if they are a few months late). Continue to have someone other than the music leader put together the powerpoint. Allocating 2.5 hours for prep is reasonable for the size of your church and the current expectations. Most artistic pastors will need more time than this if they are building their song lists and scripture reading around your sermons. So, you will need to assist and supplement the music leader’s preparation if you believe that the music and sermon should be connected. Paying the music leader for the practice time during the week is very appropriate as well. Thank you for valuing their time!

      There are some resources that might help your music leader if they are willing to consider them. In the old days, some churches used tracks for people to sing along with. These days, you can go to websites like band-in-hand, loops in worship, and loop community to either download or create individual instrument tracks that will supplement missing instruments. I would encourage this in a small congregation. Use the drum or bass track to add depth, and if you can find some string tracks, use those as well.

      I hope that my scattered comments are helpful in some small way. I lead worship at a small church, and I know that using resources to supplement the depth of the Sunday morning music has been very helpful to me!

  13. I have been leading worship for my families church for 10 years, we have a congregation of 125-150 we see about 80-100 weekly. I do music for two services, Sunday morning and Friday night. I had weekly practices for many years, I’ve recently stopped them because it feels like a burden. We practice for big events only. As I started out, I had experience leading worship for youth 10 years prior at a large church. 6 years ago, I went back to school and earned a Bachelors degree in Music Therapy Honours. Now I work full time as a music therapist and my skill level has increased a lot in the past 6 years. I have had many invitations to work for other churches who would fund me 40k/year. My band will play at various events monthly and usually get a nominal stipend. I have never received any funding from my own church other than a little bit of gear totaling maybe $600, I have over $6,000 worth of my own gear which is being used at the church weekly. I am starting to feel resentment towards the church and feel trapped because it is my families church. It feels like it’s just expected of me to be there. I’m not really motivated by money, but I think that as I’ve grown there should be some responsibility on the churches part to compensate me for the time involved. I get shut down every time I try to talk about it.

    Any advice?

    1. Hi Joe. If I were in your shoes, I would set up a coffee/lunch/face-to-face conversation with your pastor as soon as possible. The beginnings of resentment that you’re starting to feel are totally understandable. Your church should be paying you. But if you don’t find a way to communicate your frustrations, with humility and love, to your pastor, that’s a recipe for disaster. Right now you’re like a kettle of water about to blow steam. You need to let some of that steam out before you blow up.

      You should tell your pastor everything you told me here. Be honest with him. Let him listen. Then let him speak. And listen to him. Do everything you can to diffuse any tension between you.

      In a church of your size, you should be getting compensated for your leadership. They can’t afford much. But you should get something. Even if it just covers the cost of your gas and guitar strings (assuming you play guitar?) then that’s something. That’s the least you should ask for. But considering you’re no longer running weekly rehearsals, and might spend an average of 5 hours a week on this, then perhaps at $20 per hour you could see if the church can pay you $100 per Sunday. Maybe they can’t. Then how about $50 a Sunday?

      Call your pastor today and set up a meeting with him. Pray a lot beforehand. Go into it humbly. Share your heart with him. Nothing bad should come out of that.

  14. This discussion has answered a lot of questions for me. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences. As a person serving in the worship ministry in Australia, I am wondering if what I have just read is all from worship leaders and musicians in US churches? Any Australian worship leaders and musicians out there who can comment helpfully on the question of paying for the administration-side of what we do?

  15. Although worship is a delight, and a reward in itself, I believe the worship leader should be a paid position if possible. The worker deserves his wages- not for worshiping, but for serving diligently, leading faithfully, and for executing the numerous duties that go into making a worship service run smoothly. The levitical priesthood received tythes and offerings to sustain themselves so they could continually minister without worrying about their daily needs.
    This “You should do it for free or you don’t really love Jesus” attitude is far off the mark! What’s the motive of the heart of the worship leader? If this ideal applies to worship leaders, shouldn’t we expect all pastors to serve for free out of their love for the Lord? I don’t know too many people sitting on golden thrones….
    On the other hand, Paul was a tent-maker by day and minister most other times, determining to not be a burden to the communities of believers he served on his missionary journeys. He did not ‘peddle the word of God for money as some’ did back in the day, and still do today.
    We support ourselves in ministry according to our own ability, but should we ‘muzzle the ox while he is treading out the grain’?

  16. Just a thought. In a utopian Christian world, everyone would be a volunteer and no one would be paid and we would all give to wodows and orphans. However, we live in a world where churhces expect worship leaders to have a seminary masters and work for $100 a week. Get real

  17. I am a worship leader in a church that averages 900 in two services…I have for the past 16 years lead worship in our contemporary service…But I also have a full time job that demands much time also…I put in 20 to 25 hours a week at church,,,I am older now, still love to lead teams, but I want to do worship as a full time job. My doctor has suggested I quit one of the jobs. Because of the stress of two jobs.. I am salaried at the church, but not near enough money to quit my other job…I want to do Gods will in this.not mine!praying a lot on this, too. suggestions? I plan to go to our pastor and show him that I do most of what the job descriptions for a worship leader do…it is administration and sheparding, and very little time actually on the platform leading. Our worship teams NEED to be sheparded, and that is what I don’t have a lot of time to do right now….I feel I am doing a diservice to my church and the worship teams…but everyone knows that other things take up much time in ministry…anyone else out there in this ?

  18. This is such a complex problem when churces are stuggling financially. I am a Worship Team Leader and I love it. I am so stretched for time that it gets overwhelming with my family and other full time employment. Between my husband and I we barely make ends meet. My husband has been getting job offers in another city and we may end up moving because of the financail stress. I have alway felt everything we are and have belongs to God and it is our responsibility and pleasure to give back where we have been blessed. Recently, however, I approached the senior pastor about our struggle. I did not request any money but did ask for prayer. By the next leadership meeting he was very troubled as there are just not enough funds and it is out of his hands. I would love to continue and do not want to hurt my church body as they have been through many leadership changes in the last few years. I know God placed me here in a time of need and I have rolled with it for 2 1/2 years. I am really struggling with the need to help my church and the need to care for my family. They could recover enough to offer me something one day… but by then it could be to late. If that happens many tears will be shed, but, I know God wants us to prosper. Do you continue to weather the storm or seek shelter?? My husband I continue to pray for guidance as our hearts are breaking!

  19. Any pastor should be paid, It’s their way of income.. not just that but the their yearly salary is already pretty low. They go to school and get diplomas in Worship, or Pastoral Ministry. They paid to go to a college to get a diploma so they could be a Pastor. It’s their career. Yes it can be controversial because it is for the church, praising God… but in my opinion they should be paid. It’s their job. Full-time Job. My grandfather is a pastor and is at the church doing things everyday, and so is his Youth Minister, and the Worship team meets 4 days out of the week.. and the Worship Pastor comes into work. It’s their job, their livelihood.

  20. It’s always interesting to me how quickly we can miss that LIFE IS WORSHIP. How much is that worth? Would we all walk into HR tomorrow and say, “From now on you can keep my check; I will no longer take a salary because working here is too great a privilege for me to accept compensation.” Are we that ignorant to relate to those we rely on who lead us in spiritual matters? I guess a few might. But most of us enjoy giving to God through our vocation and using the funds that work generates to do further the Kingdom. I can give as much of my salary back to the Church as I want, but I value that the church responds to my life’s investment in their well-being as worshipers. As with anyone pouring spiritually into another, the role of the worship pastor is to spend the kind of time in prayer, preparation and practice that is required to live a God-breathed, spirit-filled offering before God and His people while pouring that experience into anyone willing to listen and learn. If that can’t be done with excellence in the time one has to dedicate away from their vocation each day/week, then it makes sense for that position to be financially supported, provided the expectations are clear and the position reflects the culture of your leadership. In 18 years of vocational ministry (9 part-time, 9 full time) the only times I’ve ever seen financial frustrations over church staff being paid were when the money/strife has taken first place and the blessing has been removed or there is sin in the camp… or, worse, both issues have occurred. Frankly, at either point, the compensation issue is mute.

  21. I tend to agree with Kevin in that if, as a worship leader, we cannot devote the time , prayer, etc to leading our churches worship as well as we can, AND IF WE ARE CALLED, it makes sense to pay a worship leader, to ensure a good, worshipful well being if you will, for the church served. My pastor knows the long hours I put in church work, as well as my full time job. He was the reason the church began paying me. I was called at the beginning to lead worship for the church, and I never asked for compensation. I have been leading for 18 years, first two were unpaid, and then they wanted to begin paying me, part time. This year, I have asked if there is any way I could be full time for the reasons mentioned above. I will know in a month. I put in lots of time, but I still feel I could do better for our teams. I am in a position where I never made a lot of money anyway in my secular job, but God has told me to wait , and it seems now is the time. Our church has grown in many ways. Only when the timing is Gods will things work for His good. I will say a leader in charge of worship MUST cultivate a heart of worship in themselves, not worrying about whether they are paid or not,, especially if the church is unable to pay due to size. I believe churches pay because the elders, pastors, etc seek a consistent, secure, worshipful atomosphere for their people every week. And the church is willing to pay to compensate the time committment needed to lead the worship ministry to be a fruitful, vital, growing part of the church. Pray, pray pray!

  22. Well said Katie E. I’ve been a worship leader for 10 years with my small church of 75-100 members, and though I put in 20 to 25 hours a week preparing the music & powerpoint, (not counting rehearsal time), I’ve never been paid. I’ve always considered it a labor of love, and an offering to God. But my situation changed when I got laid off from my full-time job. I realized quickly that the demands of a new job would prevent me from my worship duties. The church had no one else qualified to take over. I told the pastor that if he could pay me a part-time salary, I could take a lower paying, less demanding job that would not interfere with leading worship. He was more than willing to oblige. As Katie pointed out, we are not paid to worship. I worship God 24/7. And as much as I would like to give my time freely, I still have a family to feed and a mortgage to pay. Consider the Levites; the priests, singers and musicians of the temple of God were supported by the people. It was their livelihood. So it’s okay to give away your time and your songs, as long as you don’t get self-righteous about, or judgemental….my humble opinion.

  23. Jamie

    I have a question about when to add additional wirship staff. I’ve been a worship pastor for the last 15 years. When I started it was just me on stage with my guitar. Over the years, things have grown (attendance is about 800) and now we have 3 services for adults (1 on sat, 2 on sun). Each service is a different style with a different pool of musicians. We also have a youth band for our high school and middle school. It’s about 6 services a week led mostly by volunteers – I fill in where needed.

    The admin of all this is burying me. I feel like its time to add some part time help (I’m the only paid staff in the worship ministry). Does that seem reasonable?


    1. Hey Tom,

      You absolutely need administrative help, and it sounds like you needed it yesterday.

      Not knowing the politics of your church, it’s hard for me to give you good counsel on how to “pitch” this to your leadership, or your personnel committee, or whoever makes this kind of call. But you’ll need to work really hard on 2 key documents before you speak a word of this to the powers-that-be.

      First, you’ll need a fact-filled, detailed description of how you’re currently spending your time, your week, your work days, etc. Show them in black and white how much time you’re spending on administrative duties. Maybe you’re consistently working 60 hours a week. Maybe you have zero time for planning. I don’t know. But as Bill Hybels says, “facts are your friends”. A committee can ignore subjective feelings, but they can’t ignore objective facts.

      Secondly, you’ll need to have a job description for your ideal administrative assistant, complete with duties, requirements, necessary skills, to whom that person will report, salary range, hours, benefits or no benefits, where they’ll have an office, etc.

      You are perfectly justified to ask for, and expect, administrative help. Maybe there’s already a part time person on your staff who could take on additional hours to help you? Think it through clearly, present it with black-and-white facts, and let me know how it goes.


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