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Scott F. Guinn
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"Great Scott!" aka "Palms of Putty" & "Poof Daddy G"
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Profile of Scott F. Guinn
I didn’t know where else to put this, but I really want to know if other people have had this same problem.

Of all the clients I have (and I have hundreds--this has been my only source of income for the last decade), the only ones who have ever "stiffed" me are churches and parachurch groups!

Please don’t misunderstand. I NEVER charge my own church, and any local church that wants is always told that I will accept whatever they can afford. But often I’ve travelled hundreds of miles to do a program for a church for an agreed upon amount, and they haven’t paid me at all, or they have paid me less than the agreed upon amount--even if I have a signed contract! On a couple of occasions, I had to have my dad or wife wire me money to pay for my trip home!

In most of these cases, either the Treasurer has been mysteriously absent (they knew MONTHS in advance I was coming) or they’ve actually TOLD me that they shouldn’t have to pay me as much or at all, and I shouldn’t be upset, because I’m a brother Christian.

What about,"The worker is worthy of his wage," and "Don’t muzzle the Ox while it is treading out the grain?"

I talked to my pastor about this. He actually brought it up in a sermon. He didn’t mention me, but he talked about Christians expecting Christian businessmen and ministers to work for free or at a discounted rate. He then made an excellent point. How come those Christians hiring those services and purchasing those goods never offer to pay MORE than the asked amount? Shouldn’t it work both ways?

A school or corporation has NEVER had the nerve or bad manners to decide not to pay me after they had agreed to up front. Why is it that many churches seem to feel no compunction to hold up their end of the bargain.

Anyone else had this problem? Or is it just me?
"Love God, laugh more, spend more time with the ones you love, play with children, do good to those in need, and eat more ice cream. There is more to life than magic tricks." - Scott F. Guinn
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Scott O.
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Sad indeed that this would happen at all. Obviously, the church should be the very best "customer" that you would ever work for. However, I believe that a congregation is, to a large extent, a reflection of it's leadership. And there are some leaders that are not very well versed in the faith they espouse.

My own involvement in magic has been strictly on a hobby basis. Thus, my performances in the church have all been free.

While I haven't experienced this myself, I agree that you have a legitimate grievance. For what its worth, I see a few possibilities. Since you are a professional, and can only donate so much of your time, you could offer (as you have) to do shows for an offering. Duane Lafflin said that he tried this at first and was getting as little as $25 for an evening's performance. If you know this is a possibility coming in, and you can afford to do a show for little or nothing, then that's OK.

However, if you (as most professionals do) need to pay the bills by doing shows, then I would suggest treating church's in the same professional manner as you do other engagements. Namely, ask for your fee up front. Send the confirmation letter, and ask that your fee be sent upon arrival of the letter.

No doubt you've already thought of this. But this really is a win-win situation. You have the agreed upon fee prior to the show. And the church gets a quality show on the agreed upon time and date. If a church will not pay the fee, then (just like any other client) you don't do the show.

A well run church should have a budget and be aware of what it can afford well in advance of a show.

The seeming conflict here is that your ministry and your business are one in the same. When you walk into the church to do a show you are not a tent maker, you're a temporary member of the pastoral staff. But the pastor, takes a pay check based on an agreed upon amount by the deacons and the church body. So you should be entitled to this as well.

Scott O.
Do not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time you will reap a harvest, if you do not give up. Galatians 6:9
Steve Brooks
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Northern California - United States
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Profile of Steve Brooks

I agree with you on this issue 100% Smile

You can bet when a church has a well known Christian band do a concert, the band is paid. Otherwise, word gets out, and other bands will refuse to perform there.

You are not asking for anything unreasonable.

If you have to travel, many churches will provide some sort of lodging, often in the pastor's own home. And even if you are performing for Free, the least they could do is help with travel expenses, and most churches will and do.

If you are so inclined, you might ask the church to provide gas money (or air fare), and your food and lodging.

Then, take a collection from the congregation for the actual money part after or prior to your performance.

With this approach, you will not starve, have to sleep in the park, and won’t be visiting Western Union at 3am.



Life is not a problem to be solved...

but a mystery to be lived.
"Always be you because nobody else can" - Steve Brooks
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Profile of KingStardog
Greater Gospel Magic covers this rather well.
A touchy subject when it shouldn't be.
...think not that all wisdom is in your school. You may have studied other paths,but, it is important to remember that no matter who you are or where you come from, there is always more to learn.
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Profile of Chessmann
What a terrible witness. Shame on those churches. Here are some suggestions.

Prior to your engagement, send a letter or fax confirming the agreement - communication is key. Often the person who has spoken with you on the phone to make arrangments really doesn't have the authority to do so, or doesn't communicate terms to the financial office. Some churches need improved chains of command! Consequently, when you ask for your fee it's easier to get a blank stare.

Speak with the pastor when a similar situation rears it's ugly head. Nowhere in the Bible are we instructed to allow this kind of behavior to go unchallenged. These folks seem to be a poor witness and should be gracefully challenged to rethink their ways (or at least, their communication).

My guess is that most (sadly, not all) of these problems can be cured through communication with the people who are in proper authority -not Debbie Sue on the missions committee who thought it would be nice to have you come, but forgot to tell anyone about the financial arrangements!

Hope this helps!
My ex-cat was named "Muffin". "Vomit" would be a better name for her. AKA "The Evil Ball of Fur".
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Profile of tglund
I am a hobbyist, so I can't speak to the money issue, but the suggestion that you don't start until you have the check in hand sounds promising. It is sad indeed when, so called Christians, behave in such a manner. Everyone expects to be paid for their job, including the pastor. If the pastor is the one who tells you that your fees should be reduced you should ask him if he would mind if the Church board arbitrarily reduced his agreed upon salary and benefits, and if that is the way he feels, then he shouldn't mind making up the difference out of his own pocket.
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Profile of Chessmann
I agree, although definitely make sure you communicate the "no check, no magic show" stipulation clearly to the church. That way, if they holler "foul!", you can say, "This was all carefully discussed when you agreed to have me perform here."

Excellent, too, was the comment:

"If the pastor is the one who tells you that your fees should be reduced you should ask him if he would mind if the Church board arbitrarily reduced his agreed upon salary and benefits or if that is the way he feels then he shouldn't mind making up the difference out of his own pocket."

Sometimes Christians mistake being firm and standing up for yourself as "un-Christlikeness".
My ex-cat was named "Muffin". "Vomit" would be a better name for her. AKA "The Evil Ball of Fur".
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Profile of sdgiu
I am ashamed for those churchs and apologize to you for them. I will let you know though
that there are churches that do agree to payments and:

1. Pay the performer
2. On time
3. And even give an offering above what was agreed upon.

I have insider knowledge, as my Dad was/is
a Pastor and Evangelist. (maybe that's why he was always so generous.)

I believe no one should be offended by asking for the money up front, just be polite but firm. You and other professionals
do this for a living and can only keep on by
being paid, as you deserve, like anyone else
asked to perform a job or service.

Keep up the good work and don't be

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Profile of BroDavid
And just to reinforce Steves encouragement.

A friend of mine recently did a show at a nice affluent church, and was paid the agreed upon amount ontime.

Later in the week he performed at an obviously "not so affluent" church in the inner city, and was paid on time again.

But this time, there was no agreed upon amount. although the typical rate (what was paid by the other Church had been discussed) My friend told them to Pray and simply give what God enouraged them to give.

At the end, they said they had prayed, and they paid. And it was $100 MORE than the normal rate!

I am personally reminded of the widow's mite in this situation, because that amount of money meant an awful lot to this church, and yet they gave it joyfully!

It is sad when God's people don't take their word seriously. But many who cry out "Lord, Lord" will hear Him say, I never knew you!

And many others will hear "Well Done!" I think I know of at least one of these!

If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.
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