Praise Band Paradox

I know of a megachurch with 5,000 people that has state-of-the-art everything… projection, speakers, music equipment and the same $ound board as the local arena. Their drummer is your typical middle aged guy who works a regular job, and probably hasn’t played drums since his high school garage band days. In fact, he doesn’t even own a drum set. Tempo fluctuations are so wild in the praise set that the singers sometimes can’t spit out their words (no click, of course, the drummer wouldn’t have it.)

How does a megachurch with 5,000 people end up with a lousy drummer who doesn’t even own a drum set? That’s like having a pastor who doesn’t own a Bible!

The answer is simple, my dear readers. It’s a syndrome I’ve identified and have named The Praise Band Paradox: The bigger the church, the lousier the music.

Here’s how it happens: smaller churches don’t have a large talent pool from which to choose, so they often pay for musicians. One small church I’m thinking of has the best music in town, and the best musicians. They’re not paid much, but they are paid.

When a church grows to a larger size, a non-musician in power can’t understand why the church is paying musicians when there are so many people in the congregation willing to use their “gifts.”

This explains why a good number of megachurches I’ve visited (not all) have music that isn’t so hot. Not that the music was horrible, it’s just that I remember thinking “wow, my little praise band (of paid players) in my 250 member church sure sounded a whole lot better than these guys.”

A famous worship leader I know who works at a megachurch of 6,000 told me they had to stop paying musicians for this very reason and now only use people from the congregation.

Interestingly, I don’t recall ever visiting a GIGAchurch (10,000 or more attenders) that doesn’t have absolutely spectacular music. These bands are obviously made up of paid professionals (while vocalists are still volunteers.) Perhaps during their 5,000-9,999 growth stage these churches realized it was a bit silly to pay six figures for a state-of-the-art sound system to amplify… a drummer who doesn’t own a set of drums.


Essential reading for worship leaders since 2002.


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