Praise and worship singers are often at the heart of any church service, their melodious voices abuzz or humming in the background.
If you are one of those people who get to church early to tap into the 'top layer' of blessings, you have probably seen them adjust their microphones, cables, and tune their instruments before the service starts.
In most urban churches, praise and worship is a big deal; and not everyone makes the cut to serve. You have to be good at what you do. After all, even God demands a proper sacrifice, one without blemish.
It takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice to be a praise and worship team member; including hours of practice and dedication.
But what happens at the end of the day? Should these singers go home spirit-filled but with empty pockets, or should they be paid for their services? This is a debate that keeps coming up in Christian circles.
Pastor Milton Jumba, the lead pastor at Mavuno Church Mashariki Campus, said this conversation is a double-edged sword that needs to be handled carefully.
“Most creatives have honed their skills over time outside the church and what they bring to church is a culmination of their efforts and sacrifice. In this regard, they deserve some form of payment, although oftentimes it will not be up to market standards,” said Pastor Milton.
He however said from the ministry perspective, what creatives bring to church is considered a gift, which is an act of worship, not labour.
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“The Bible says, freely you have received, freely give. In this aspect, creatives are stewards and they form part of the body of Christ by bringing their skills to the church. You might argue that since pastors get paid, so should creatives but it is important to note that most pastors work full-time in ministry,” he added.
Amani Baya, a drummer who has worked with top artistes, believes the conversation is broader than just the money bit.
“So many men of God have put a price tag on musicians and it is okay to offer a token of appreciation since it is almost impossible to quantify the work they do. It should be about taking care of the musicians in church since, just like all of us, they have bills to pay and if we opt to settle on a particular figure it probably won’t be enough,” says Baya.
He adds: “The church should probably go a step further and check on these musicians…have they paid rent, have they eaten, are they in good health, are their parents okay? That goes beyond money. Yes, they should be given something, but we should also put an arm around their shoulders.”
Brian, a guitarist in one of the popular city churches in Nairobi, says he has invested in his craft for years and a small payment would go a long way in motivating him.
“I started playing the guitar when I was 16 and it has taken me a long time to get to where I am. I bought my guitar at Sh17,000 and the effect box cost me an arm and a leg. I do not want to be paid an exorbitant figure; a small token of appreciation would suffice,” he says, adding that he gets ‘something small’ from his church.
Pastor Jumba feels it is also important for the church to empower creatives especially in cases where they solely depend on their skills.
“The church is mandated to support creatives by helping them build their brands and gifts by providing platforms and using their networks to transform their lives," he says.