Monday, May 12, 2008

Praise Band Paradox

I know of a megachurch with 10,000 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.

How does a megachurch with 10,000 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: small 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 sounds a whole lot better than these guys."

A famous worship leader I know who works at a megachurch of 6,000 told me they stopped paying musicians and now only use people from the congregation. The pro players were invited to continue playing for free, but instead moved on to other paying ministries in the area.

Before you judge, remember that a pro player is a professional, which means that playing is his/her profession. That's how their living is made.

Also keep in mind that there's quite a big difference between a person volunteering to wash windows and a person volunteering to play an instrument in church. How many years of lessons and practice does it take to wash windows?

And if a church has multiple services, the musician's time commitment can sometimes be as much as a part time job (a friend of mine who plays at a megachurch that still pays musicians spends at least 15 hours a week in rehearsals and services.)

Should you pay your musicians or not? For that matter, just who should be paid in the ministry? Should the pastor? Should janitors? Or architects, landscapers, brick masons? Should you pay for electricity, water or air conditioning?

Should a church pay six figures for a state-of-the-art sound system to amplify... a drummer who doesn't own a set of drums?


Anonymous said...

now now...Don,let's not get huffy.
It sounds eerily similar to some positions of sway in Nashville. Most people wouldn't think twice on dishing out some cash for services like maintenance or improvements or upgrades. Still, there remains this irony for music,musicians and well...

Anonymous said...



Tom Becker said...

I'll never do the worship band thing again if I can help it. So have fun figuring out the answer to your little insignificant problems.

Good luck!

warbird2010 said...

WOW! Great take on the paid musician scene. I have had Non-Christian friends get paid to play in church, and I do believe it was good for them to be a part of the music, to hear the Pastor, etc. Our church is a little different, our keyboard player is an ex-Nashvill/Branson guy, I'm an ex-branson player (Elec and upright bass), and our drummer had gigged in a TON of clubs. Yeah, we're all guys from the congregation, but we've got the hours of practice to prove it ( unless you hear me sing :) Great thoughts. I'm adding you as a link
Jim C

Anonymous said...

Since when has it been solely about how the music sounds?

davidtjordan said...


I'm a worship band leader, a worship leader and a keyboardist here in the Nashville area and I've never been paid to play. I HAVE been paid to lead, though. Our church runs about 2600 and my previous church ran about 4200. Neither church paid its players because a.) most players here with hearts in the right place don't require payment and b.)they saw it as a place to make more connections and play with other great players. We had to audition players, the supply was so great. I know this isn't the norm from coast to coast, but you might think that professionals would demand payment. Not so. These guys get paid during the week to record for Rascal Flatts or Carrie Underwood- playing at church is their ministry.

I can see where you're coming from, though. Many pastors see musicians as second-class volunteers and only notice them when they're not there! You make some good points here, but to assume professionals HAVE to get paid to play at church is to assume they have no ministry.

Another caviat- true pros really don't NEED to practice some of this new worship stuff anyway, do they? Four chords and lyrics as shallow as the kiddie pool at the YMCA... One hour and you're done, right? Sunday morning, 1 hour earlier would do it, no? :) Don't know where the "15 hours of rehearsal" comes in. It really shouldn't take that unless they really are no good!

Just my thoughts from 20+ years in worship ministry..


Don Chapman said...

My experience, from living in Nashville for five years, is that it's another planet and doesn't represent the rest of the country. Supply and demand... when you have great players coming out of your ears you're probably not going to pay anything.

Out here in the real world, things are different. There just aren't that many talented people to go around, so the good ones usually get paid.

I worked at a huge church and also had top pros playing for free because it was their ministry. Other pros would not play because they did music all week long and wanted a break from it on Sunday.

Anonymous said...

I suppose size is a relative thing. Our church is in a small city of 10,000, but for the size of the community it is a large church at 300. In a city of 12 million or so 10,000 is a reasonable size.

If a church of 300 can come up with enough volunteers for a 3 team rotation then surely a church of 10,000 can do it.

Having said that I do not buy the idea that bigger is better. I would put the musicians at our church up against some of the best in the world. These people play as well as anyone I've ever heard. Their amateur status has nothing whatsoever to do with it. They love music but most of all they have a heart for the Lord, and a sensivity to God's Spirit.

The thing that makes great musicians great is that the music is inside them & simply has to come out, not because they are paid, and when I say that I mean vocalists too. I was watching a PBS broadcast of Louis Armstrong last evening. He is a prime example of this fact. He would have sung/played with the same passion whether he got paid or not, worthy of every penny as he was.

I have no problem with paying professionals but realistically that should not be necessary. If they love their music & they have a heart for the Lord it should be their pleasure & privilege to sacrifice their best to the King. The monetary gain should have nothing to do with it.

I couldn't imagine expecting or accepting a fee even if I were a Julliard grad. My gifts belong to the King. They are his to use as he chooses.

As the great guitarist Phil Keaggy puts we need to all yeild our instruments to the Chief Muscian & invite him to play through us. Believe me that is the key to Phil's genius.

I don't consider myself to be a great musician inspite of my years of practice. I have no illusions about how weak I am. Every time I touch my keyboard I pray that prayer... "Father, play through me today." Believe me he does because I know I'm not as good as the people say I am. It's all about him anyhow.

Anonymous said...

I am a member of a very small church (normally have 40-50 people). When my family first started attending, the church had 2 pianists and a worship leader. My husband and I became part of the worship team a month or so after we started attending. The praise team now consists of me & Debbie (vocals), Mike (bass & vocals), Bill (drummer) and Paul (piano & vocals). We also have an elderly lady who plays piano on Sunday mornings. Our pastor is ecstatic because she tells us that 8 months before we came, she didn't even have one person who could play an instrument. The members took turns leading worship a capella. That shows you the power of prayer! I don't get paid for what I do, because I'm not doing it for the money. I am just using the talent God gave me, so why should I charge for it?

Anonymous said...

I am a pastor of a small church of about 100, and I have pastored now for about 10 years, one thing I have recognized, that without good music, people don't come. Its a shame!!, but the truth, well you will have some who are dedicated, but in such a small pool of talent to pull from you take what you can get ... I am praising God that our worship team rocks!! I mean Rocks!! and because of them we are drawing crowds, hopefully these crowds will find Jesus and be committed to Him whether or not our music, or any other music, is good...OH, don't pay the musicians, once you do you loose their effectiveness, THATS JUST MY EXPERIENCE...

Anonymous said...

Other than the pianist/keyboard player, our worship team consists of volunteers who are passionate about what they are doing. The one issue I have is that musicians who are getting paid for what they do - seem to sometimes have an attitude that they are "owed" something. When a musician is paid to play, I have higher expectations for that individual, and sometimes it's the paid musicians that honestly are most disappointing with their level of commitment-I did not say talent-I said level of commitment. Many times our volunteers are much more committed to the ministry, are more full of passion, and are more willing to put in the extra time and energy to be the best worship team possible. My feelings...

Dan said...

I find it hard to understand how any Church could justify paying musicians other than a director of music/worship leader apart from in those big "Mega" Churches. If a Church of a few hundred feel able to pay a team of musicians then either have a very rich congregation or focus too much on music. If you don't think that this church with the terrible drummer had good music then they must be doing an awful lot of other things right in their ministry and reaching a lot of people. Therefore they must see other places the money can be better spent.

It sounds to me like you think you are doing things the "right" way and other people's way is simply "wrong". Why spend $100k plus on a new sound system when a drummer is not very good? Because you want a better sound!

Terry in Dubtown said...

I would like to ask every musician who has reponded on this topic a few questions.

First, how much time and money do you have invested in your gear and ability?

Second, Is music the only ministry you do at the church, or do you volunteer elsewhere?

Third, If I came to your church to sit in with your worship team, how much practice would I get before that actual service?

On a final note, after you have answered these questions, I would like to know where you stand on the issue of paying musicians to minister with the worship team.


Terry in Dubtown

Russell Gray said...

I've been a musician all my life. I've been in Great Praise Bands and then I've been in some that were not so great. But I've always noticed that it's not about the band. God can use anyone at anytime. I've seen more response at an alter call sometimes when the band was not the best players, or the singers were made up from the 2nd or 3rd string players. I think that there seems to be a huge topic here about the "paid vs. being unpaid." I think that As a musician in church. If you are being paid then you have your reward as the Bible says. Personally, knowing how generous our Lord is. I would rather do it for HIM knowing that our Master is the same God that rewards his servants very well. Really if it's not about doing it for the Lord then you need to just go back to playing secular music and doing shows. Like most of us musicians were doing before the Lord turned our lives around. If we take the "God" factor out of whether the Music is good or not, then we are limiting what HE can do and it's not suppose to be about us. As musicians we should also be willing to do other things at our church in service such as flip some hamburgers at a youth event, be a chaperone, stir up some grits for the men's Prayer breakfast whatever...God Wants servant leaders, not superstars. Just a thought... Russell G.

Gary said...

Also a Paid Worship Pastor and musician, I agree with Don on the paid band members. In the last 30 years, I've helped 7 churches break out of Hymn only to blended worship services. All the churches were 100 and under when we began the change over. Some had no musicians except me. Each church grew as a result of growth mindsets. I was only successful on posing the idea to one senior pastor for paying the band members. It was never talked about again. I support the idea. It was difficult to raise the talent needed when I was fishing from such a small pool. Graciously, God opened the door to getting most of the band members I needed.

Yes Don! Even the small churches could benefit from more experienced musicians, even 10 bucks a week is enough.


Tim said...

I agree fully with you Don.

Too many times people associate large numbers with a church that is thriving, and has a great music dept, but more often than not, this is not the case.

At a church I went to in Charlotte, NC, the music was second to none. They had professional musicians in the core spots ( piano, drums, bass, guitar), who were paid, and paid well. Then they had the other 30 piece orchestra that was nothing short of amazing. Add in the 130 person choir, and the easter cantata was simply amazing.

By contrast, another large church I attended had 500+ members, and the music was only so-so. The piano player was a BEAST. He could play anything you put in front of him, and play it WELL. He was put on earth to do one thing, and it is to play the piano. His voice is also amazing. He is certainly using his gifts to glorify God. The problem is, the drummer, the bass player, and the acoustic players are just not that good. Meaning the only time they practice their skill is when they are at church. They do not put in any outside practice time, and it shows.

Being a minister of music myself, I know what it means to put in the practice time and polish your skills.

I lead worship at a small church, under 100 people, but I'll tell ya what, our music ROCKS. We understand that we will never be able to pull off the same type of music and sound that say Brooklyn Tab can achive, but Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Third Day, etc are no problem for us. Granted we may not be able to do some of the fancy lead guitar lines, or the synthesized tones, but our folks don't respond to that. They respond to simple, understandable music that ushers them in to the very presence of God.

Harold in Hoffman Estates said...

What's your definition of a "small church?" To our church, which sometimes has trouble paying the pastor, a 250-member church IS a mega church. We need a drummer and a keyboard player. Any volunteers?

Harold in Hoffman Estates said...

What's your definition of a "small church?" To our church, which sometimes has trouble paying the pastor, a 250-member church IS a mega church. We need a drummer and a keyboard player. Any volunteers?

Ed said...

As a member of our church's worship
team, there is nothing I rather see
than a good sounding worship band, perfect in every way, vocalists and rythmn section are in harmony with one another.

The fine line is are we working or are we worshiping. Of course our church worship service is on Sunday morning and I certainly would not want to work on sunday.

A profesional musician's main source of income is to perform .
As a christian, his or her worship time with the Lord cannot and should not be mixed with making income. There are some exceptions
we all know what they are.

Most muscians like us are extroverts. We want an audience to watch and hear us play. In as much as we are giving praise to our
Lord we also wanted to be noticed and apreciated for our God given talents. I know, I know I am getting carried away here but don't kid yourselves accepting payment to play on sunday worship service and or worst allowing a "non christian to lead a worship service" is got to be the most absurd thing I heard of. Please stop justifying things, we all like music and we all like playing music the best we can. But ask your self one question, who are you performing to during your time of worship???

I always said to my group we love music and we as musicians are different from most people. We take music and our love for musical
instruments very seriously. But our love for our Lord is paramount.
I wonder what does HE think about all this.

Now how about paying big bucks for some good seats to a Chris Tomlin/Matt Redman concert, hey now
you're talking, I'm in anytime....

your brother in the Lord,,

dseeljr said...

Hmmm...I don't totally disagree with your argument, but...most of the churches I've been in with sub par music is due to a sub par musician in charge. Music in the church has always been viewed by Pastors and congregational members as the one area where training isn't necessarily needed b/c if you can "jam" which is by the way covering up your inadequacies, then it all appears like you're good; also music has always been viewed as an area where proficiency isn't as important b/c it's all about the worship, not the music. That is just a way of making excuses for being lazy to not go and practice. It is absolutely about the music as well. Do we really think that God accepts it when we're not proficient in our musical ability all in the name of worship. Consider this: try that from the pulpit, less training, less proficiency, all in the name of "it's about the anointing not the preaching", preach with that approach and not only will you be ineffective, you'll probably shrink your church down to you and a few other ignorants.

Ed said...

yeah, I do agree with most smaller
congregation, they try to get by with available musicians within the
church, the problem is you also get
people that may not be skilled enough to be in a worship team, and or a mix of musicians that do not play well together, ie different styles. People who think
they can step in a worship service
without practicing is foolish and
and selfish, after all we need everyone in the team prepared and
well rehearsed. Even the best of the best musicians in the world would not do a gig without a practice.


Roy said...

Well, as a Worship Leader in a large Lutheran church, I find it very interesting that the Pianist for the traditional services as well as the Asstistant Organist, and Cantors, and Orchestral people (most of who play 5 times a year for HIGH services)get a "Stipend" while the team that I lead for 2 services every week get nothing more than an ocaasional dinner that I expense to the church and then get grief over it when I do it. If we are to believe that God will annoint those people that lead us in worship, why are we paying Pastors that sometimes seem less prepared to lead us in biblical teaching than the worship team does in song?
Worship should be an "Excellent Offering to GOD" of the church. Can this be accomplished by amature musicians... absolutely yes. Is it easier and less distracting if we pay pro's to play so we can worship too... most definitely! Whatever your take is on this subject, realize that as a Worship Leader, one of my main responsibilities is to foresee, alter or remove any distraction that would lead us away from the experience of worship. Volunteer musicians are great if there are enough to pick from but when the Pastors want you to use more of them, quality is comprimised... They(The Pastors) would never allow someone who isn't theologically trained to teach us but hey, what the heck... jump right ito the band! Nothing is worse than having to deal with Bassists, Guitarists, Keyboardists and Vocalists that for some reason JUST CAN'T MAKE IT TO REHEARSAL EVERY WEEK... but can show up and use their 'Gifts" every Sunday morning in front of hundreds of people. Sunday morning (with all it's Glory and blessings and stresses) is no time to be teaching the band the songs they could have learned at rehearsal and spent the week working on. But, alas... they're just volunteers, right? Paying a musician to be there is more about offering everything we have to our GOD. Including the resources to provide any and every facet to "The Experiece".
Should we really give anything less than that? Should we offer anything less than an "Excellent Offering"?

Lois said...

As someone who has played keyboard (both piano, organ and electronic) for church since I was 9, I realize the importance of quality music. I have played for other churches and been paid for my services. However, I cannot sanction paying for musicians when you don't have money for other ministries. This is something I can do that maybe somebody else can't - it is MY offering to the Most High God. I sang and toured and was compensated for that - but now it is about PRAISE and worship and yes, practice, practice, practice (maybe not for my sake only but for the other musicians). May God bless those who volunteer to use their talents for Him.


Roy said...

Lois, God bless you for using your talents and gifts for the church. You are storing riches in heaven by "Investing" in the kingdom. I too was a touring musician and have been compensated in the past. Not so much for the many hours of mediocre rehearsals (because the "Volunteer" musicians did not show up) but rather for the evening or daytime event performance whatever the case was. My biggest reason for wishing to pay musicians is to remove any distraction (such as a squeek or squak in a High School band concert from the saxes...etc.) that would focus the congregation (however momentarily or minutely )away from the presence of God. Distractions... there are so many of them that the hour can be filled up with every good thing... great music, great preaching, great communion. Then an hour after the service all you can remember is that the Worship Leader looked stressed out... and by the way, didn't he say there was supposed to be a bassist today, and where was the drummer? And what was the point of that drama anyway? Pay professionals to be there until volunteers can effectively integrate their talents to replace them with comparable talents... not just a warm body to fill the space.

Ed said...

Good on you Lois, You said it all,
use our talents to serve HIm. This is why He created us and also why He has given us diverse talents
so we can offer it back to Him.

As I said before, musicians are a diffrent group of people, we take
our music seriously. It does not matter whether it is our hobby or our chosen profession. Whether we get paid or not and whether we serve our Lord with our music or not music is in our system and it can be frustrating when it doesn't sound good.

We can't blame volunteers for their
lack of experience or talents, it is the responsibility of the worship leaders that invited them to join in the first place. In our church we normally organize a music talent search each year to add and or to enhance a particular team. We divided the team into groups, so rehearsals with the same musicians on a weekly basis is easy and fun. Once you get used to each other's capabilities and style, we can play together and perform a particcular set with confidence and we can also depend on one another to be there.

For those who are irresponsible for not showing up for rehearsals they should be dropped from the team. It is only good management, after all we are serving the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and He wants us to give Him everything (:


Anonymous said...

Our music director has a "music degree" so he spends most of his effort on the traditional service rather than contemporary service. Put that in quotes because he is clueless at understanding the contemporary service. For example, He has singers doing 3-4 part harmonies (Bonus = out of tune harmonies) throughout the song for stuff like Chris Tomlin, Casting Crowns, etc. I've been playing for 25 years so it's more than a little frustrating to watch this go on. The church pays the traditional service musicians but not the contemporary service musicians. Not that pay is expected by contemporary musicians - it just seems the church leadership has a misguided understanding of the future of worship.

Ed said...

I remember Don Chapman's suggestion in his previous articles
mixing a blend of traditional hymns with contemporary songs.
Our worship team has been doing that and with good results. Our church is blessed with a mixture of
members from early teens, baby boomers (like myself) and some elderly folks. So having a blend of traditional and contemporary worship songs really help us in preparing our hearts to worship our Lord.

I've noticed that some worship leaders who sticks to the music sheet (of course most know how to read music) at times do not really know how to arrange a new contemporary song that suits today's worship team. Having too much harmony on a song that do not need as much harmony changes the song's dynamics so it sounded more like a hymn than the contemporary song it was written for by the author.

I love hymns, don't get me wrong, what I do not like to hear is a " modern contemporary song that sounds like an old traditional hymn" all because the worship leader, who knows how to read music refuse to refresh his or her style and adjust to a more modern style.

I want to thank Don for a great suggestion on how to blend modern and traditional songs in such a way that it provides a good mix of
praise and worship songs for all to enjoy.


Roy said...

Just so we are on the same page... I love some of the "Hymns" that have been used as of late. Fernando Ortega has had great success with these songs and the I love using some of the same arragements in my Contemporary setting from time to time. They can (with a little work) be blended into a praise set to tie the two realms of worship(Horizontal and Verticle). But now everyone has a new "Old Hymn" cd out and it is getting easier and easier to find great arrangements from people like Paul Baloche, David Crowder, Chris Tomlin and others. So... let's keep Contemporary vs. Traditional out of the equation for right now and concentrate on "Who is to be paid? What we are to pay them? Where can the money come from?" That seems to be the real issue... After talking with the Music Director yesterday about this subject... I think I have convinced him to allow me to use my budget to pay for some "Back bones' in the band when I need to. Like last Saturday night when the college kid I was using left me an email at church at 8:30pm saying that he wouldn't be able to make it afterall.. I got to be able to man that spot at 7 am Sunday morning with someone who can play with a mimimal of rehearsal or do without... enter the pro.

Ed said...

Hi Roy,

I'm with you on the same page, however my only concern with a last minute addition to a worship band/team can be problematic and
it can throw out the rythmn and harmony of the band that are used to one another, unless this person
is regularly used by your church. This brings the question of why that person is not a member of the team, paid or not.

I have no problem in inviting a group or an individual to lead worship and compensate them as part of the church's ministry. I would rather see a group of talented musicians make music to honour and glorify our Lord and Savior than they go out there along side of the secular musicians to try to make a decent living from their chosen profession.

However, I stand very firm on not inviting any musician no matter how good they are in joining a worship team when that person or persons does not know the Lord Jesus Christ or have not made a confession that he or she is a christian. It is like a blind leading a group of people that can see in nowhere land.

I know how frustrating it is when you worked hard to organize the upcoming worship set and someone did not care enough to let you know he or she is not coming. But then again when something like that happens we just go on and most of the time the Holy Spirit
have taken the leadership and lead us into an amazing worship set even when the bass player or a drummer is missing. I would not sacrifice the integrity of why we are gathered that morning and who are we honouring, just for the sake of presenting a good sounding set , I am not going to ask just anyone, this person first of all has to have the right kind of heart, a heart that loves the Lord, a heart that truly has a heart for worship and not showmanship. If you are truly gifted it will show on how you perform, paid or not paid.

I am guessing you are blessed with many talented musicians, use them and remind them to use their gifts for the Lord. And those musicians who still don't know our God, witness to them, don't discourage them, let them know why you serve the Lord and perhaps through music
it will speak to their hearts like it did with me......

blessings to you,

Roy said...

Thanks Ed... I become very possesive of what happens in worship because ofthe nature of Passion... not that others do not have it but rather the degree that I feel it sometimes does not match up with others views of Passion... I try to make my offering of what I am and what I have, center around the King. In doing so, yes I have attracted some very gifted, public christian musicians. They confess Him as Lord and Savior. But, I just have a hard time getting them to give up time with their families for around 6 hours a week to help me with worship. There are 24 people on my team and out of those only 6 are musicians. Lots of singers and a couple of tech. But when I lose the bass on a Sunday, it is hard to pull from an already small musical pool. I am praying for God to send us a whole slew of people to give me a pool to draw from this "Church Season". Peace

Ed said...

Hi Roy,
I understand how you feel 100%, I feel the same way. I bet you that you are one of those who would not sleep until the worship set for the coming week is done and in order. On top of that fact that you already organized in your mind how the song set will sound and how it will develop with the rest of the group.

I am one of those that my best day is when I am serving our Lord thru
music and I look forward to it with
great anticipation. And my best times are when I am with like minded people who equally enjoy playing guitar and singing, I mean I can do that all day long 7 days
a week. It is too bad that I have to earn a living doing another type of work.

I also realized that not everyone is going to have the time and the commitment that you and I have. Some of our team members have families with young children and that will take away from many opportunities of rehearsals.
Some also even though they have the skill and the talent musically may not have the same drive and motivation at the time.
it is rare for a musician not to be excited in using his or her gifts.

I will pray for you my brother that our Lord will continue to bless you and provide you all the people and the tools you will need to serve Him well. Music is got to be the most fun of all gifts our Lord have given us besides "salvation" (:


Laura said...

I think the whole argument is completely symptomatic of the modern church. We are way too concerned with having the perfect "worship experience". I thought the purpose of worship was to worship God. It is for Him. It is not for the pleasure of the musicians or the congregateion. Any music offered up to God from our hearts with the right intentions sounds beautiful to Him regardless of how it sounds to us.

John said...

I tend to agree. Currently our tech dept. is busy filming us every Sunday so that later in the week the folks in the band can review the "game tapes" and make adjustments. Not to improve our sound, but to improve how we look on stage! I wish they'd put that energy into the music. A few of us need some lessons to be sure.

Junjie said...

I cannot accept the out-of-time drummer in ANY church setting of more than 02 people. Am I a musical elitist? Hardly. But an out-of-time drummer is a huge distraction to the people. If the worship still happens, it happens in spite of the drummer, not because of him.

Worship is for God, no doubts about that. But worship ministry is for HIS people, to support them in their sacrifices of praise to God. Some technicalities are unnecessary (in fact get in the way). But others (like keeping in time) are essential. So if I have to PAY someone to keep a steady beat (something my grandma does when patting a baby to sleep) then... :)

Ed said...

Hi Don,
This is the first time that I am dissapointed in your most recent article "What is wrong with our music"....
I mean Don, explain the relationship between age and style
again, I mean I don't quite get it.
Because what you are implying is that when a guitar player is now 40
years or more he or she is no longer in touch with today's so
called modern contemporary christian music, come on that is
crap, pardon my language, I thought
you of all people would know that is not at all true. Just because you heard one particular guitar player in a congregation who likes using chorus and reverb on his electric guitar does not mean we all do the same thing. I am actually 55 years old, I like music period, I also like a wide variety of genre, from rock and roll , country, blues and Jazz
good old gospel , modern contemporary, the list goes on.
How many professional guitar players you can name me over 40 years that are out of touch with modern guitar playing?? You know and I know there are many more
great guitar players in their 40's and up than guitar players under
that age group. I don't want to enter a " I know more than you know
discussion" you have just insulted guys like me who enjoys playing the guitar and using it to praise and worship our Lord Jesus christ. And you are right, keyboard is out, thank goodness, imagine if every music we
play on our worship service is led by the pianist and keyboards doing
a Hillsong upbeat music like "What the world will never take" Don try it on your keyboard and see how it sounds............
blessings to you

Don Chapman said...

Ed refers to an article I recently wrote which was at the website, not here. Evidently he's so outraged he's looking for one of my blogs to vent. In the article, I tell the tale of a church that's having problems with their music because their mid 40's guitarist plays current worship songs like they were written in 1980 with dated chorus and reverb effects. Sorry Ed, you're wrong - unfortunately this problem is indeed rampant, I hear about it all the time from churches.

Ed said...

Hi Don,
I'm not outraged Don, maybe a little bit surprised.If I came a bit too strong, forgive me and please accept my sincere apologies.
I do have a few questions for you:
1) how old are you??
2) Do you have a problem with people over 40 attending any of the
churches, as opposed to people under 30??
3) Do you know that people like us who is over 40 probably can afford
more musical equipment like pedals
and probably more sofisticated guitars than those who are in their

I read your article several times to try and get a grip of the true message you are trying to convey to your readers. Usually your articles are full of good advise
and helpful, I want you to know that.

Allow me to quote some of your articles that disturbs me a bit:

" Option 1: Keep the guy in your band and settle for music that doesn't sound right" . (by the way you are referring to the 40 year old guitar players)

"option 2: kick the guy out of the band and find a 25 year old to take his place"

"Maybe there's a 3rd option where the ball is on the court of the mid 40s guitarist. Kindly explain to him to play the guitar EXACTLY as he hears it on the recording. He may not even own the proper pedals".

I will let your other readers young or old to judge what these all means.

Oh, by the way in case you do not know:

Lincoln Brewster is 37 going on 38 and you should warn him that he only got 2 more years to go before
he should decide which OPTIONS you
suggested for him to take.

Chris Tomlin is turning 37, he should do the same thing.

Oh, don't forget Michael W Smith he
is 51, by gosh he is too old and should definitely be given option 2
right away.

Never mind Eric Clapton, Ropn Wood,James Taylor, I could go on and on I will stop here. I'm sure
you know what I meant.

Last, please tell that pastor not to be dissapointed with the number of over 40s attendants in his congregation. Tell him these guys are more established and can give
more to the plate every sunday than these unemployed 20 year olds.
Just joking, everyone are welcome in our congregation.........(:

Ed said...

Hi Don,
that is much better Don, sometimes
a good explanation of what you meant makes a big diffrence in just making statements alone.

I agree 100%, I was there , I am here now, remember Maranatha music,
nothing wrong with it,but... You mentioned Sandi Patti, great singer, but....I remember Steve Green, How about Degarmo and Key?
They were all fine, but time for a change I agree.(:

Not using a capo is a big mistake.
Even the best of the best guitar
players uses them. I use them a lot, changing texture can do more
in enhancing overall dynamics.

Again, I apologize for jumping on you last week, you have my respect
and admiration back and will continue to enjoy your articles.

One thing though please keep in mind that there are guys like me who learned to adopt and adjust even though we are over 40 years old, and yes I do use diffrent pedals and processors on my variety
of acoustic and electric guitars.
It's fun when you can produce many
styles and sounds by using it!!

Please continue to encourage us in
making music to glorify and worship our LORD (:


Stephen Canfield said...

We occassionally pay musicians, but our music is a HUGE part of our success in reaching a younger crowd. We are known for the music in our church, and it is pivotal to us achieving our mission statement...reaching unchurched people. This is a very subjective topic, but I would say that it is important to make these decisions based around kingdom effectiveness.

Anonymous said...

Hi from Australia - we have a small praise band that commits faithfully to a fortnightly practice and plays each Sunday morning - a mix of traditional hymns and some more modern Keith Getty/graham Kendrick stuff. We also sing a good number of songs by talented, great Aussie Christian songwriters. We are of varied age range from 9 years (fab on the trombone) to older people (who have great voices). We all view being part of the Music team as the way in which we serve God and our brothers and sisters in a supporting way - God has blessed us as as we have worked together - all for nothing, I don't think we would feel comfortable being paid.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to hear that the meeting I had with the church elders the other night seems to fit in line with what I'm reading here. We are a church of 250 and have two contemporary and a traditional service. With the addition of the extra contemporary service, I am struggling to keep instrumentalists for the praise band. Noone wants to commit. I usually don't know until Sunday morning if I'm going to have a drummer - if he walks in at 7:35 for the 8:00 service, then I know he'll be there. One of the guitarists likes to call me on Saturday night at 8:30 to see if he should be there (even though he missed rehearsal). The church is considering hiring a core group of musicians (guitar, bass and drums) - I play keyboard and do lead vocals. The thought thrills me because I would have a consistent group of people. Instead of just practicing the songs for the upcoming Sunday, I could actually work on new music. I live in an area with an abundance of musicians and some who have said they want to play with our group, but I can't get them to show up. Would paying them make a difference? I don't know, but I've got to try something.

Anonymous said...

If money has nothing to do with serving, why don't pastors give up their salaries? I mean if their hearts are right... Puhlease! People that want to get paid for their work, don't love God? That's crazy.

The old saying is true. "You get what you pay for." Yes... you can have a great band and not pay them. But that is a church that doesn't have its heart right. If it's unethical in the world, how much MORE wrong should it be in the church?

If a church has a band from its congregation and doesn't pay them, the church is using people. If those musicians want to be used, and consider it their sacrifice to God, so be it. But musicians should not be told that they don't have their hearts right if they won't play in church for free.

David said...

Don; I'm leaving a comment on this older post because you linked to it in your recent (7/28/09) WorshipIdeas newsletter.
Like Ed (in the comment thread on this post), I've also noticed that your writings occasionally reveal a distinct "age prejudice" that is really not justified. You may indeed have encountered older musicians who don't "get" the style of the most contemporary Christian music, but not all older musicians and performers fit that profile. A really good musician is a really good musician all of his/her life. I have played keys, guitar, and sax for over 40 years and lead worship and play a variety of Christian music styles very successfully. I know other musicians my age who can do the same. Remember Don, you will be 50, 60, 70 someday; will that suddenly make you an incompetent musician? I hope God blesses you with a long life and career, and that you continue to play, write and arrange even when you are "old".
By the way, I fully agree with your main premise regarding praise band pay.

Don Chapman said...

There's no "age prejudice" in my blog posts. I AM old myself - my mother was just laughing at me the other day because I'll be 44 next year. I'm simply reporting a trend that's happening in churches all over the country - older musicians are refusing to accept and adapt to newer styles (and causing huge headaches for worship leaders.) Evidently I'm on track because these posts have certainly hit nerves.

Tracy Nikkel said...

I think the fundamental problem here is the apparent indeed need for "perfection" in our worshiip bands. This is how we make our worship about us & not about the LORD we're worshipping, as Matt Redman puts it.

The Chief Musician is looking for an offering from our hearts. It's very much like the parent proudly posting her kindergarten child's art on her fridge, rather than being disappointed because the kid can't paint like Monet. God accepts whatever we give Him when it come from our hearts. Remember it's about Him not us.

I think there is a fundamental misconception that professional = better & amateur automatically = incompetant. The idea that because a guy learned his drumming in high school & now works at a regular job mean that he can't play well is rediculous!

As for people who "use to play well" but haven't for a long time are only lacking practice. They know everything they need to know they just need to get out of the moth balls & play. The opportunity to play will turn willing people into great musicians!

Besides all of that there has to be something said for the value of annointing. The same Spirit of God who turned Mr. "Foot-perpetually-in-his-mouth" Simon Peter into an eloquant Preacher at Pentecost can turn the ordinary into extraordinary on a daily basis if we yeild our in instruments to his control. As the incomparable Phil Keaggy puts it, we need to invite Him to play through us every time we touch our instruments or raise our voices. I am convinced that when we allow the Spirit to lead He will use whatever we put into His hands & heaven will come down to earth!

Steve said...

A few cents of comment here:

As a lead worshiper and non-professional musician, I find it difficult to comprehend this idea of paid musicians. My talent came from Him, why should I then seek compensation? It reminds me of corporations and profit-driven play productions, not the true body of Christ, man's way versus God's way.

I play with polished musicians as well as those who are just beginning. Our focus is on Father using us, Father dwelling in our offerings, and Father working through us to affect change in peoples lives. I'm not given the luxury of playing with great performers, just with great worshipers, and there's a big difference between the two.

Perhaps the paradox lies in who man is relying on for the "worship experience."

Anonymous said...

Hi Don - I have noticed some mega-churches with lower quality praise bands and always wondered why, until I got involved in one - or rather didn't. My experience is that the process of being a part of the worship team can be highly political, and the lack of gratitude on the part of leadership is phenomenal. We have very talented people with hearts for God that are sitting on the sidelines, or have left the church because of the politics of being a part of the worship team, or how they were treated.

Should musicians be paid? I would say that if someone is having to shell out a significant chunk of time, then some show of appreciation is warranted. If you have a big church membership and your band is mediocre, I would guess that it's a top/down problem. My church has had a habit of not recognizing anyone who works on the team beyond the paid director. After all, one should share one's time and talents freely, at least that's what I was told. Finding team members has become increasingly difficult and those who are left are burning out - badly.

Most musicians hunger for an opportunity to do music, but don't want the stress of having to deal with band members who they wouldn't choose to play with in any other circumstance, or performing music that their band can't do well. It's hard to deal with band members who won't prepare, and leadership who won't deal with it. The mediocre musician is grateful for the opportunity.

Again, I don't think it's a money thing at all - not in a big church.

Anonymous said...

Mans mind is so feeble and is paid for it ..but that which comes from a greater mind that few understand finds freedom from cost we can never afford for what is most important.