How Much Should The Worship Leader Be Paid?

I’m a volunteer worship leader, and I love it. Sure, it would be great to be able to do it for a living, but my church isn’t big enough to support that, and I’m blessed to have a career that pays the bills well enough for me to invest as much time in my church as I do.

I know it’s often considered to be in poor taste to talk about money, especially what someone is getting paid, but I was very curious to read Mike Kim’s post 3 Types of Worship Leader Salaries. He begins with a rundown of what a worship leader actually does, and it might be eye-opening for some:

  • hours in service & soundcheck
  • rehearsal
  • song selection
  • administration
  • secretarial work (copies, chord charts, etc.)
  • maintain equipment
  • recruit musicians
  • develop worship leaders & musicians
  • build team dynamics (fellowship etc.)
  • pastoral meetings
  • special services
  • be anointed, creative, relevant, spiritual, and bring the glory!

That’s a pretty big job! Mike then discusses the different pay levels that he would find appropriate for the worship leader, the worship director, and the worship pastor. What’s the difference between them? You’ll have to read Mike’s post to find out.

PS: In fairness, although I’m technically a volunteer, the elders of my church give me a generous Christmas “bonus” each year, for which I’m very, very grateful. 🙂

12 thoughts on “How Much Should The Worship Leader Be Paid?”

  1. I’m considering taking a position as a part-time worship leader. I will have to conduct/rehearse a small choir (8) weekly and rehearse with the praise team, select music weekly, copy and distribute it, then lead at one Sunday service. The congregation is about 70-80 strong in a depressed area of Ohio. I have a Master’s degree in music and 30 years of church experience in various formats. What should my salary be?

  2. $400 per week or $21,000 per year.
    Why? Because it is part time. Because they need someone to do it well – consistently with excellence but aren’t willing to pay full-time. Because you will spend 20 -22 hrs per week maximum in this role. Because you are going to deliver better than a volunteer who is on fire but lacks all your experience & wisdom.
    If you are not able to get that type of salary then consider doing something else – like getting a part-time job at Starbucks. You’ll get paid for what you do & interact with people & can even chat about God. Remember – the church gets a lot of experience with you – don’t use that as an excuse to sit back & take it easy – they need you to lead so they should be able to expect leadership from you both on stage & off.

  3. I am a worship leader and have been for almost five years. I have never received compensation. Recently we have fallen on some hard times. I changed jobs for insurance and so on. I am police officer with four kids and I am the sole income for our six person family. We recently had to purchase a new vehicle (New to us it was about $5,000) because our old one was going to cost that much to fix and it did not fit our whole family. On top of my job I have a business that has not been going well and has been losing money for the last year. I have also just been injured on the job and am going to need surgery, this means my pay is going to be 65% of what it was until I am get back to work full time. We have been unable to pay our tithe for the last year. We still give, just not 10%, we give when we are able to. However as part of our agreement to be members we are supposed to give 10%, so our membership status is “inactive”. I have had to borrow money from my in-laws just to pay my bills, and it does not seem right to borrow money from them to pay my tithe, or to get government assistance (food stamps) like we do and still pay money we dont have. I lead worship on Sunday mornings, get the music together, coordinate one practice per month, schedule sound people and so on. This takes time and I am having a hard time with becoming “inactive members because we are unable to pay our tithe. I have never asked to be payed to lead worship, but, I feel like asking for $250 per month to cover my tithe is not unreasonable. I have not approached the board with this yet, but I am wondering what your opinion on this is. In the past I have purchased the symbols for the drum set, new microphones, cables, guitars, a tv for the nursery, a sound bar for the nursery so whoever is working in the nursery can hear the service, and the list goes on. I know our church can not afford to pay me a salary to lead worship and not work, but, is this unreasonable? I would appreciate your opinion and any biblical references to support your answer. And please understand that I am not trying to “get rich” leading worship in church. And right now my wife is going to school so she can work from home so we are not in such a tight spot.

    1. The other thing is, since I have taken over as worship leader our congregation has grown (By God’s work not mine!), but I constantly hear that since I have taken over our worship service has never been better. I hold our mucisians to a high standard, and they hold themselves to a high standard as well. In our weekly leadership meetings the pastor has said numerous times that worship is our strongest ministry, even above his message (Again I am not trying to take credit, it is through God’s anointing and God’s blessing!!!), but I would like to think that I am a small part of that.

    2. Somewhere in the Bible it says a worker is worthy of his hire. Personally, I know how much work is involved in being a worship leader and having not been paid for the first 18 years of music ministry( I have two music degrees) I feel your church is taking advantage of you especially in light of your circumstances. If I were you I would find a new church that would be willing to step up and do what is right and honorable.

  4. Chris, so sorry to hear your times of hardship. I am a part-time worship leader at my church and understand the difficulties of making enough to support your family while having a job that frees up enough time to serve your church in the way they want you to.

    Have you talked to your church leadership about this? It seems like a number of factors would be at play here. First, the idea that simply not meeting a 10% tithe would put you into inactive membership is really not a healthy one. First, there is no NT mandate for a 10% tithe (though I think generosity would suggest that as much as a 20% offering to the church would be appropriate). Inactive membership to me would indicate that you should also not be allowed to lead at the church (I’m not advocating this, just using logic). Our members are those whom we can hold accountable. If a member is “inactive” due to lack of giving, they would be removed from leadership because it would be a character issue (it would not be based on a 10% flat rule). Yet if they are a faithful steward of all of their time, talent and treasure and aren’t able to give financially, but demonstrate generosity in other ways, I would suggest that person should be both active in membership status and remain in leadership. There is no membership fee in the body of Christ, yet each is accountable to his own conscience and before the leaders God has placed in authority over him.

    I would then move to ask probing questions of your own situation, being as honest as possible. These are by no means meant to accuse… just for you to get to your heart level. These questions would include: Am I being the best possible steward of my finances? Am I being generous? Have I chosen a lifestyle based on the home I live in or cars I drive that has put me into the financial position I’m in?

    The simple fact is that while the apostles laid out the principle that a workman is worthy of his wages, they also set an example as those who never demanded those rights of their congregations (1 & 2 Thess for example). It was always the leadership that put a person into a position by which he was cared for financially by the church.

    Which brings me back to my first question: have you talked this through with your leadership? If not, start there. And is your leadership biblically qualified (Titus 1, 1 Tim 3) to make those decisions? If not, find a church that is structured according the Bible’s outline and will be able to give you biblical counsel regarding your financial situation.

    1. Ben, excellent response.

      Chris, Ben has some solid information here. He is right about a lot of things and provides wise counsel. I was going to say a lot of what he just said so instead of saying it twice, take a second look at his response. I will pray for you brother

      1. I realize this post is pretty old, but I have to second Ben’s post. Also, about a church which codifies the 10% tithe. This seems legalistic but I think there is some freedom in church leadership to set goals and encourage the body to reach them. We attend churches because we are “bought in” to their vision and mission, and if tithe is part of the mission, then the congregation should buy in or find another church that meets their unique calling.

        Bottom line is that a discussion with leadership would be needed for them to understand your circumstance, and if they decide to retain the “inactive” status, then logic dictates that you should not be responsible for “activity” in the church, especially in a leadership position, as the activity undermines their authority.

  5. First you need to discuss this with your pastor, who is your stepping stone to the leaders. Someone else should present the need to the church and not the one in need. Let your presence and importance stand out, even if by increasing your activities in the church. Remember the most important thing is the opportunity of helping someone find God.

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