Church Music Today
Many musicians are demanding to be paid by churches for the use of their skill in empowering church music.
This phenomenon has been occurring in the church for a longtime. Most clergy have refrained from speaking about this publicly for various reasons, though they complain bitterly privately. It is however highly important that this is addressed so that a lot of minds would be at rest, especially the incoming generation.
The Music Skill Development Process
Besides natural talent, it takes the investment of much time and resources in developing music skill. Learning basic piano play can take about 6 months of consistent training yet its a bit still inconclusive because it depends on the learning ability of the student.
After the basics, you would need to be mentored either directly by other musicians or download videos from youtube and self-learn to get to the level of professional play. It is quite clear that one needs dedication and the investment of time to be able to achieve this.
How Expensive really is Music Development?
There are two sides to this. Free Training and Paid Training
Most piano tutors in Ghana at the moment charge from about GHC100 to about GHC250 a month; same would go for most instruments. So doing this for a year would eventually cost you about GHC1,200 a year.
Besides this, you need an instrument which you likely would have to purchase. A bass guitar or piano (or keyboard) depending on whether used or new and the brand could cost range from GHC500 to over GHC10,000. This would enable you train privately at home.
There a many musicians today who were trained by music tutors in the church (especially at youth ministry level), or by friends and colleagues. These are free for the individual though sometimes paid for by the church or ministry they find themselves in.
A set of drums costs well over GHC5,000. This is beyond the budget of the ordinary youth who wants to learn how to play drums. So where do they get to rehearse? You already know the answer: mostly in churches. Besides the use of the instrument causing wear and tear incurring maintenance and replacement costs, it comes with electricity bills whenever you need to use bass and guitar combos and electric keyboards.
Who purchases these instruments and pays the bills for the youth to learn freely? Certainly not the students. So you can actually conclude that apart from the investment of time, it can cost the individual basically nothing extra for learning to play a musical instrument.
How Much are Musicians Charging Churches?
Few lay musician play for free as an act of worship in ministry. The majority demand churches to pay them GHC600 and above every month for the following committments:
- Sunday Church Service
- Saturday rehearsal (dependent on if the church has a vibrant choir or if they have nothing else they find more important)
- Mid-week service or Friday all-night service (some churches don’t have this)
So in effect they a lay musician shows up in church either once or maximum thrice in a week for mostly two hours or less and they take GHC600 from the church.
This means that the church in effect is paying an instrumentalist ranging from GHC50.00 to over GHC200 each time they show up in the church auditorium.
Some churches now employ musicians as full-time church workers. An the amazing thing is that, the pay ranges from about GHC500 to over GHC1,500. These however work in the church monday to friday and on Sundays too. They play as part of their committments in the church. This is a far better scenario in my opinion.
What is The Right Thing to Do?
1. Admit The Truth
There is a clear distinction between a full-time minister and a lay minister. Lay ministers do other jobs to earn a living.
What are the needs of a lay musician?
- They need jobs which will earn them enough
- Schorlaships for students in some cases
- Logistics like transportation in few cases where one may be unemployed
- Empowering with musical equipment
- Great fellowship
- Spiritual growth
- Counseling and guidance
Paying lay musicians sets the precedence for other major problems in ministry. The right thing to do is to give them a full-time job.
2. Deal with Mammon
Many musicians claim that they are being used and taken for granted; hence they would charge so that they can also accumulate wealth for themselves just as they see some pastors do.
This is what Jesus has to say:
19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
The moment a musician chooses not to go to church because he is not paid, the first question to ask is that: “if no church would pay you, would you sit at home with your gift”? Are you then a believing christian or a secular musician? Or would you attend church and decide not to play?
So who really is in control of your life? Is it God or Money?
You know, most musicians quote scritpures such as:
Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.
This scripture needs explaining to fit any given situation. In the first place, an ox does no other job than to plough the field of it’s master. That should make you think deep.
So why don’t you rather apply for a full-time job in the church rather than deplete the little ministry resources that is needed for infrastructure which comes back to benefit you?
Mammon is a subtle spirit working in the church, making people sacrifice God for money and it is not only about musicians, but men of God and ministers of God in general. The ultimate agenda of this spirit is to weaken the church making people live by sight instead of by faith in God
There is so much to learn; make sure to read the second part of this series