The issue of Gospel Musicians/ Music Ministers making financial demands to sing in churches or to sing for God so to speak, has been a very sensitive topic in the hearts, minds and lips of several people both in and out of the Church for many years now. It has not just been an object of debate, but has also attracted unfathomable excoriation and sometimes outright disdain from those who feel the act stems from an opportunistic slant and a debased form of mercantile methods to ask to be paid as a Gospel Singer.
I was once invited by a government agency years back and I asked them to pay me the sum of three (3) million naira (only) to perform, mark the word I used, "perform" and the head of the agency who is a deacon in a popular Pentecostal church asked me a very shocking question that still bothers me till date. He said, "Three million naira??? To sing for a God who gave you this gift free of charge?"
I quickly interjected and said, "Sir!! The gift God gave to me is a talent and there is rejoicing in heaven that I am not just using the talent, but God is so pleased that I am sustaining my life by it, which was part of the agenda for the talent in the first place! I am adding value to the Body of Christ by tithing, giving seed faith offerings and support to the underprivileged through the use of this talent. So in essence, asking you to pay an amount that is easily affordable to you, gives me the privilege of using my talent to fulfil a divine mandate. "
James 4:17 says, "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin. "
I started my calling in Music Ministry as the Music Director in a church in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria. Throughout my foundational time, which spanned a dedicated period of ten years in Port Harcourt, I never demanded for money as a preconditions for service. I served with all my heart without any disputation for financial rewards. Sometimes, I was used by men, and knowingly agreed to be used because I believed and still believe that every service on the altar is synonymous to service to divinity which ultimately culminates in divine recompense.
Even to this day, there are many churches that really need help, and as The Lord provides the opportunity, I still minister in such churches without demanding for a fee because I realize that they need more help than I do.
Nonetheless, when I know that the church has financial capacities, I approach them with the benefit of this knowledge.
Dr. Panam Percy Paul once said: "Humility is when people who ordinarily cannot reach you are able to access you."
So when I speak today, I speak from the standpoint of service which is my foundation. The bible says that it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful (I cor 4:2).
However, it has become necessary to clear the errors and indoctrinations which are either products of ignorance or some form of deliberate mischief aimed at putting others under the jackboot of slavery, ungodly subjugation and the tyranny of reprobate fatherhood.
Now let me make this point very clear here. The submissions I am about to make are not impeccable responses to the questions of Gospel Musicians and money.
They are just a glimpse of the revelations I have had, coupled with the experiences from my ministerial interactions and information gathered from the scripture.
So if you do not agree with this article, please do not cast aspersions on the author, rather present your superior scriptural reasoning for thinking differently. Anything otherwise will be responded to in similar fashion, so be properly guided.
THE PROBONO MUSIC MINISTER:
I have a few colleagues who say they do not demand for money to keep a singing appointment. They get invited and they ask the church or organization to give them anything. I have no condemnation for such people. Actually, I admire them. I think they have such a grace that is absolutely commendable.
However, if you have suffered in the hands of the inconsiderate opportunists, those I fondly call the "Shylockist patronizers" it would be absurd to go to a place with a crew of ten (10) Musicians or more without knowing if the proceeds from your labour of performance and ministration are able to satisfy the logistic and overhead obligations/ responsibilities of your ministerial assignment.
ONE EXPERIENCE TOO MANY:
Dr. Panam Percy Paul, Chairman of the board of FOGMMON, who has been a Music Minister in Nigeria for over 40years, once narrated a very sordid and regrettable tale of how he was invited to a church to minister and on accepting the invitation, traveled with his full crew. After a wonderful ministration that was a blessing to the entire congregation, the money given to them in the form of an honorarium was not even enough to transport the crew back to their base! They had to canvass for funds from private sources to leave the city where they came to be a blessing. This is heart wrenching!! what a grave debasement!
What a deviation from biblical norm! What arrant provocation!
Even the bible, which is our constitution, speaks expressly on taking care of strangers not to talk of those who have come to labour on the altar.
"Thou shall not muzzle the horse that treadeth out the corn. The labourer is worthy of his reward." (1Timothy 5:18)
"He that watereth shall be watered." (Prov 11:25)
"Thou shall not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him. The wages of him that is hired shall not abide with him all night until morning." (Lev 19:13)
These and many other scriptures are available for a guide which we ignore deliberately.
MAKING A CASE FOR VOLUNTEERS MUSIC MINISTERS:
At this point, let me establish a dichotomy between those who have secular jobs but have volunteered to serve God with their musical gift as an offering to God, like choir members and instrumentalist, from those who are full time Musicians. This write up does not refer to the former.
This thesis specifically concerns those whose life's work is to sing and play music for God which is the blueprint set out in the points made below. So if you have a talent and you want to volunteer to serve God and work in a church with your talent, that is very commendable and God delights in your sacrifice.
It was Quincy Jones who said: "When Musicians make music only for money, God walks out of the room."
Permit me to add that this same God also walks out of the room when those who enjoy the music deny the Musicians of the reward that comes from the exhibition and manifestation of such talents and callings.
Now, here is the deal. There are scriptural, moral and professional reasons why Gospel Artistes/Music Ministers should be well paid and taken care of and where they (the singers) cannot guarantee the graciousness of the host to fulfil their divine responsibility in terms of emolument, then they could place a price tag on their service. This should never be an object of dispute. Although I am careful to advise that there should be a clear definition of a proper manner, modus or pattern of collecting or receiving their monies from the churches. The important thing is that there is an exchange indicating appreciation.
The first reason why music ministers should demand for a fee subject to the the above reason is: