Though the gospel may be free, groceries and rent are not, and more and more gifted speakers and musicians are having to increase their booking fees to amounts that the average church pastor would get laughed out of a deacon’s meeting if he proposed paying it for a single worship night.
“Only if we can take it away from your salary that week, since you won’t be preaching,” he may get told.
“We’ll have to take up a special offering,” the always fun suggestion is typically given.
But are those the only options—either take something out of the budget or pass around the offering plate?
Perhaps not. Depending on your location and what all is around you, there may be some affordable options for the body of Christ to help each other out as Jesus intended. Assuming the leadership staff is open to some outside-the-box ideas to bring in special music or speakers every now and then, there are probably a few ways for you to do so that wouldn’t mean missing a paycheck.
Reach out to a local megachurch. Typically, large churches have multiple worship band options they like to use at different times. They may have a choir and orchestra, a praise team, a worship band, and a blue grass band they like to mix things up with every fifth Sunday. The point is, with enough planning time, you may be able to ask a group from another church if they would lead a special night of worship for you. Chances are the band would be absolutely thrilled to have a new audience, as well as a chance to “take it on the road” like a real band.
Is there a college ministry at a local school? If you live near a large enough university, you will likely find a campus ministry like Cru, Baptist Collegiate Ministries, or InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Usually these groups have midweek meetings with their own worship bands and staff or students sharing a brief message. Hopefully, if a local church reached out to them and asked for help for a single service or even a weekend event, they would be extremely willing to help out. Oftentimes, the staff who live off of a salary they have to raise would be thrilled to have a new outlet of contacts that could arise from speaking at your church. And certainly the typical college worship band is grateful for any outlets to play their music at, no matter what monetary payment is offered.
Speaking of local ministries . . . What other ministries are in your community that your church could partner with? Maybe there is a Christian adoption or orphan-care ministry. Maybe a rescue mission or a food bank. Is there a pregnancy care center fighting abortions in the area? Many times these ministries intentionally hire at least one staff member who is very gifted at speaking and getting others excited to join God’s work in the community. Reach out to one of these ministries that you believe your congregation could get excited to partner up with and ask if they have someone they could lend to you one Sunday.
Young, up-and-coming bands and speakers are on Facebook. Every well-known band and speaker can tell you of the days when they traveled halfway across the country for a job that paid $100 and a covered-dish dinner in a fellowship hall. Well, the next generation of these men and women are out there doing that still right now. But you only need to find out where they’re advertising themselves. Look on Facebook, Craig’s List, and other social media outlets to find them. Obviously a bit more research and references would be advised before you invited complete strangers to lead a service at your church, but don’t forgo this opportunity to find the next big thing!
And don’t forget a good old-fashioned pastor swap. No, I’m not referring to finding a pastor to switch congregations with permanently (although I’m sure you’d find plenty of takers!), but why not team up with another pastor and offer to switch pulpits one week? It could either be a typical Sunday sermon, just with a special guest pastor; or perhaps you could lead a weekend marriage conference at his church and he could come and speak on another specialty such as addictions or parenting for your church.
Get creative, tapping all possible resources. Try combining some of these. Do you want to hold a sanctity-of-life weekend conference? Ask a local pastor who has adopted to preach, invite a local pregnancy-care center to set up a booth and send a speaker, and find a local college ministry or large church who could send you some special musicians for worship. Let the body of Christ do what Jesus intended for it!
Kevin Harvey is the author of two books, his most recent being All You Want to Know about the Bible in Pop Culture. He also writes at BibleInPopCulture.com and can be found on Twitter under the handle @PopCultureKevin.