Should you pay your praise band? The answer is: “it depends.”
What type of worship leader are you? Perhaps you’re a teacher at heart, and are energized by rehearsing every musical detail of your praise set with amateur musicians until they get it right.
Or maybe you’re more of a minister than a musician. You’re not that concerned with musical polish and spend a good chunk of rehearsals doing a devotional.
You might be a very talented musician and demand only the best from those in your band. You feel the Church should have the finest music and won’t settle for anything less.
In these cases it’s easy to see who should and shouldn’t have a paid band. The talented perfectionist wants to see his/her worship vision fulfilled and will have little patience with a middle aged volunteer drummer who hasn’t played since his high school garage band days. The minister worship leader wouldn’t know what to do with a professional musician and both parties will end up frustrated. The teacher worship leader would be unfulfilled and perhaps bored if her paid band came to rehearsal and played everything perfectly the first time.
Another consideration is: what does your leadership want? If you’re a minister worship leader unconcerned with musical details and your pastor/elders/deacons expect a professional production every week, you’re headed for disaster. In fact, this is probably the root of most worship leader frustrations – when a worship leader’s style is matched to the wrong type of church. If this describes you, you’re probably banging your head against the wall and are miserable. Summer is a great time to start looking for a new ministry – make sure your style and the direction of the church are the same. The good news is, even in this economy, good worship leaders are scarce and churches are always looking. Have you read my article on why worship leaders are in demand?
A third question you should ask is: how large is your church? In my blog post The Praise Band Paradox I describe a phenomenon where smaller churches typically have better praise bands because they have to pay musicians to even have a band. Megachurches sometimes have less-than-stellar musicianship because they have a large pool of volunteers (and some genius deacon has a brainstorm: why pay for talent when we have all these wonderful volunteers!)
Bottom Line: To pay or not to pay? I’ve heard it debated for years with pros and cons from each side and as far as I’m concerned, either way is great depending on your situation. Prayerfully make the choice based on your worship personality and the direction of your church leadership.