Worship For Sale: Rescuing Nigerian church from hands of praise, worship dealers, by Ayo Akerele
The practices of giving honorarium have historically existed as an alternative support system for music ministers. Further, the tithes and offerings collected by churches should actually be used in manners that don’t just help the church to flourish and advance the cause of the gospel, but to also meet the needs of everyone serving the church faithfully, music ministers, workers, or whoever. I agree that a lot of pastors neglect the poor and use these offerings as they so wish. I know a lot that is going on in our churches. However, in order to save the next generation of worship leaders, many of whom have already found mentorship in the hands of the advanced worship dealers, we must get back to our roots. All pastors and General Overseers and Church leaders who know the truth and are not working to build their own empires must start using their in-house worship leaders for all programs and conferences. Build them. Develop them. Expose them. Appreciate them and to the best of your ability, provide for the needs of those who either cannot work outside of the church or who have not found work.
It is difficult to expect GOs and leaders who are working for Satan, many of whom are in Nigeria, to stop this menace.
Why? They need these “superstar” worship dealers to gather crowd and make money. It is not God they are worshipping. Their conventions are only designed for fund raising and image branding purposes. But whether these categories of ministers in Nigeria want to repent or not is not my problem. What we are saying here and what many other concerned brethren have been saying will soon act as a witness against them on the day of judgement. It’s only a matter of time.
If we don’t charge fees, how do we survive?
This is the narrative from every single proponent of “fees before worship” in Nigeria. Now, if you are truly called by God as a music minister, your case is very different from music artists or music entertainers whose primary goals are personal branding and financial success. I am not addressing entertainers here. I am addressing ministers who lead the body of Christ to sing and worship God. There are dozens of avenues you can explore to generate resources as a genuine, God-fearing worship leader. If you are a trained music minister with skills in building vocals, writing songs and playing instruments, set up online or physical music training schools and trade your skills at that level. A keyboardist for a leading church in Nigeria is training my children on the keyboard and we placed him on a fat monthly salary. We are also connecting him with many more families. He provides his training by zoom, and, potentially, if he trains five children in a month, he can make more than N600,000 per month.
Now imagine if he is doing that for ten families. So, the excuse that I must charge fees prior to accepting invitations to lead worship so as to pay my bills holds no water if you really want to be honest. Also, put your contents on YouTube and on iTunes and receive royalties from these platforms. You can also write short books on vocals, song compositions and stage management and sell them in your network. You can make your own albums too and make them available for people to willingly purchase. For those who have other skills and trainings aside from Music, you can leverage on them to make money. There are music ministers who have IT backgrounds. You can pick up a remote IT job. You can start investing in real estate. I know IT consultants that are serving God as worship leaders in many conferences and church programs. One of the main worship leaders of the Oslo Gospel Choir in Norway is a primary school teacher. Yet, he sings around the world on his annual vacations, winning souls for God. There is no excuse for desecrating God’s altar. The challenge with many of our brethren is “Laziness”. They want to sing for one hour and charge N5million because they know that it will take them a longer amount of time to make that money, should they choose to do other things.
If you know that “stealing” is wrong, is there any tenable excuse before a court of law for engaging in stealing? It’s a matter of the mind. It’s a matter of conscience. And if you are truly faithful to God, and are hard-working, God will bless you. He will open doors for you. If you think God cannot bless you, it calls into question your relationship with God. Brethren, what do you think will happen if all churches in Nigeria stop inviting external praise and worship leaders and start using their in-house praise and worship teams – those who don’t charge fees prior to serving God with their gifts? What do you think will happen? Let all “superstar” worship dealers go back to their local churches, submit to their pastors, humble themselves, attend Sunday schools, attend prayer meetings and bible studies and grow in Christ. You will be amazed at the level of transformation that will occur in our churches. The music ministry is as critical as the preaching ministry.
If you want to be a music entertainer or a music artist, so as to continue to charge fees prior to serving the body of Christ your gifts, please go ahead, but don’t do it in any genuine Church of Christ, and don’t call yourself a music minister. It also follows, that no church of Christ must entertain entertainers as worship leaders, so we don’t become complicit in their sins. Also, let all pastors and church leaders stop mis-using people. Take care of the people serving God under you as you will take care of your own children. Don’t transfer your children to be leading worship at the Dallas branch of your church and send this poor brother to lead worship at the branch close to Sambisa forest. Be fair and honor everyone’s gifts equally.
Dear Sister “Superstar”, Dear Brother “Superstar”, God may not judge you now for desecrating his temple. But don’t forget, you will still die and stand before Him to account for your ministry. How pathetic it will be to tell God that you charged and mandated His church to pay you fees prior to worshipping Him because you needed the money to pay bills. How pathetic an excuse it will be to tell God that your pastor forced you to do it? Don’t forget, everyone of us will stand before God to account for our deeds, regardless of who is responsible for our sins. And that you are doing it and getting away with it does not excuse you from its eternal consequences. God does not have to win on earth to win in eternity. He does not have to win physically to win spiritually. Sooner or later, you will still account for your stewardship. He is interested in your success, but not by merchandising His grace on your life.
- Dr. Akerele, a leadership and system development strategist and minister of the word, writes from Canada.