Cheap Worship, Expensive Church

“It takes a lot of money to look this cheap.” Dolly Parton.

Riverside Community Church is a PCA congregation that meets in Cartersville, Georgia. It does not own its own property, therefore it rents Sunday morning space in the Seventh Day Adventist building. It is a small facility and the church does not fill its two rows of pews completely. Congregational singing is led by some dude with a guitar and (who I assume is) his wife. I don’t think either are paid and if they are it certainly can’t be much. The rest of the musicians consist of children playing stringed instruments. There aren’t enough people in the congregation for a choir. The music is beautiful. I’ve never visited that church and heard an objectionable song. Worship at Riverside Community Church isn’t a stage show, it’s a corporate expression; and it’s grounded in God’s word. The same can’t be said for every congregation in Cartersville or across the country.

Too many churches spend thousands of dollars to hire a full-time music minister and install visual effects systems in order to put on a shameful display of unholy music from the worst false teachers (Hillsong, Bethel, Elevation, et al) in the world. The next time your church puts on some wannabe Hillsong concert, keep in mind that it cost thousands of dollars to profane the Lord’s sanctuary that week. Let’s do the math…

According to GlassDoor, “the estimated total pay for a Worship Pastor is $95,256 per year in the United States…”. Over 52 Sundays, that comes to $1,832 per week. The price estimating tool at MediaMerge indicates that a sound system for contemporary 1,000 seat auditorium can cost nearly a quarter of million dollars. If we depreciate $250,000 over 5 years, we arrive at an expense of $962 dollars per week.

A church with a sound system that advanceded may employ a full-time audio-visual technician. It may also spend thousands of dollars on a lighting system as well. The royalties churches pay to organizations like CCLI amount to just a few dollars per week but those dollars go to the pockets of the wicked men and women from organizations like Hillsong and Bethel.

So…what’s your church spending per week on its music presentation? $2,000? $3,000? $4,000? Even if your church’s music presentation is actually pleasing to the Lord, couldn’t it be done for less? Imagine how many missionaries you could fund for what you’re spending for music. And let’s face it. If you and I can tell your so-called corporate worship is a concert-style presentation of the Christian radio Top 40 designed to attract and keep the money of nominal Christians who might otherwise attend a more showy church, God can too. If some dude with a guitar, a litle girl with a cello, and a old hymn doesn’t cut it for that worldly woman you are trying to keep in your Sunday service, maybe let her go find her jollies elsewhere.

It takes a lot of money to make your worship so cheap.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

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Seth Dunn

Masters of Divinity in Christian Apologetics, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Member of the Evangelical Theological Society Certified Public Accountant