It’s ok to pay non-Christians to play music in church services

One of the most bizarre discoveries for people is that Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City has paid non-Christian musicians to play music in their church services.

Most Australians I know really balk at this. It feels unspiritual. Mercenary. Selling out on the community of God’s people for the sake of quality. No only to have non-Christians… but to PAY them!?

I remember somewhere reading Tim Keller make a peculiar theological argument for how this was fulfilling in part the Old Testament prophecies about the Gentiles singing praises to the Lord. I read those prophecies as being fulfilled when the Gentiles come to put their hope the Lord.


I think there is a much more simple, historical justification: accompanying music is not that big a deal. Our conviction that the musicians must be Christian, it seems to me, is in part the fruit of the modern ‘worship’ movement.

It is not a big deal for an old traditional church to pay an organist to come in and play the organ for their services. Because it’s just a backing instrument. The congregational singing is the big thing. We might pay a non-Christian gardener or a non-Christian accountant. Why not a non-Christian backing musician?

It is in part that we have over-spiritualised and over-centralised the role of band in our church services that we find it strange to have non-Christians in the band and to pay them to do it.

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