Should Churches Hire Outside Musicians?

A common practice in some (usually larger) churches is to hire outside musicians to play in their Sunday morning service. These may be instrumentalists or vocalists, contemporary or classical, although It seems that drummers are in especially high demand and short supply.

The rationale for this practice is that there is a certain type and “quality” of music that must be maintained at a particular church. Many churches will first try to fill their stage with in-house musicians, but if there are not adequate (in quantity, skill, or availability) musicians within a congregation, outside musicians must be utilized to ensure the appropriate experience for Sunday mornings.

I think this practice needs to stop immediately. I believe it is harmful to individual musicians, to the local church, and to the church at large.

For the individual musician, this practice keeps him/her from being fully involved at their own church. It communicates that your church and worship service are more important than their rootedness in a local church. For the local church, the practice is detrimental to leadership development, as it keeps worship leaders from doing the hard work of developing their own musicians and building true teams.. It also communicates to the congregation that external “quality” is more important than developing, using, and celebrating the gifts within their own body. Simply put, the church becomes product-driven.

This poor ecclesiology hurts the church at large. Individuals and congregations begin to believe that Christianity is a solo sport, that worship is a commodity, that what (or who) God has given a particular church is not enough, that playing on a music team is no different from gigging in a bar, just with less alcohol.

What are your thoughts on hiring outside musicians?

Angie WardComment