playing music for $ at protestant service

Hello All,

Lately I have been taking some music gigs at Protestant services. As a Catholic, I have mixed feelings about it. I did check with one person I consider a pretty knowledgable and orthodox Catholic and he led me to believe that while he would not do it, there is nothing to forbid it. I have found some people who seem to discourage it online though.

Now, I might feel different if I was leading the songs or involved in the liturgy more directly. All I am doing is playing a role in the band. I mean, I feel weird because it is directly affecting their service in a way, but it is just a job to me. But if I were a carpenter or a janitor I would feel fine fixing/building or cleaning for a protestant Church. Would it be different I wonder if I were an organist and was the only musician playing? Does it matter how much one needs the money or not?

My point being that, what I am doing is being hired to play some notes. It does so happen to be during the service, but I do not see it as direct involvement in carrying out the liturgy.
It is my job, and I play wherever I am invited and paid as long as its reasonable.

Has anyone ever definitively asked or answered or have a link for me to solve the issue?
I welcome your opinions, and I will take them to heart, but am looking for something more concrete. If not found, maybe I should just ask my Pastor.


I can’t give you a direct answer, but I can tell you that I have been in the same position. I am an organist and cantor, and once when I was looking for work I was very close to auditioning at a Lutheran church. But something made me change my mind and I cancelled my audition.

If I had not, I would probably not now be employed in a beautiful, very traditional Catholic church, with which I am very much in love :slight_smile:

You can think of it as “I just play notes”, but you also have to realize the danger of this thinking. I’m sure some Nazis at Auschwitz thought “I just pull the lever.” Now obviously there are big differences, but my point is that the line of thinking COULD be used to justify almost anything.

Talking to your pastor is probably a great idea :slight_smile:

Very good point.

Could you not spend your valuable time here on Earth praising God in the way He intended?

Remember, money comes and goes, but God’s love endures forever.

[quote=Equites Christi;9956100
]You can think of it as “I just play notes”, but you also have to realize the danger of this thinking. I’m sure some Nazis at Auschwitz thought “I just pull the lever.” Now obviously there are big differences, but my point is that the line of thinking COULD be used to justify almost anything.

Equating playing music at a protestant Service with the killing of Jews?? Isn’t that a bit over the top, not to mention insulting to those who died in the holocaust?

I appreciate the opinions. But so far that is what they seem to be. I ma not saying they are incorrect. Just that you offer no actual citation or authoritative backup of your thoughts to convince me. Again, if you were a plumber and you were hired to fix the plumbing at a protestant church or a carpenter and you were hired to fix a whole in their roof would you not take the work even though it helped the building to continue to go on and have worship services that were contrary to your beliefs? I am not sure if what I am doing is the same thing, but I am not sure it is not either.

I like the test “if you have to ask, perhaps is your conscience telling you its not right”. Clearly on some level, you are uncomfortable with your role, or you wouldn’t have posed the question. Peace.

Your pastor is always your best resource.

Prior to a severe injury, I used to play the organ for my grandfather’s Presbyterian Church, as well as the Catholic parish I am a member of.

I fulfilled my Sunday obligation with my parish, and I would even play at weddings and funerals at protestant churches.

My pastor told me I was sharing my God given talent with everyone, and that is the way I looked at it.

If I was covering for an organist at another church for an extended period of time, I would make them the same deal I made my parish. First Sunday of the month, I play for free, after that, I charged my standard fee.

I do IT support for all sorts of business, but I refuse to do business with companies and institutions that are on the ‘wrong’ side - those that promulgate a decay in society.

If you were my Catholic friend that needed work - I would ask you more about this Protestant church and if working there would interfere with your own Mass. Then I could give you a personal answer.

From a Catholic stand point, as long as you’re not doing or encouraging intrinsic evil, as I understand it, I think you’re ok. This would lead you to ask how this church views abortion for example.

First, be sure you fulfill your Sunday obligation. And perhaps even make sure you understand WHY you are Catholic. . .

Then, I think it’s okay to do it. I’m of the opinion that it’s GOOD for people to be Christians, even if only Lutheran. So the music is fine, if you understand where you are at and why you are there. It’s really great to be fully Catholic. :slight_smile:

Yes, my conscience is a little not at total ease…but rather than take that as a sure sign of anything, one must realize that I am sort of a person who hates uncertainty. I tend to be sort of scrupulous at times. So my conscience would be bothered by a lot of things. And it is possible it bothers me here, not because I am doing anything wrong, but because I have a hard time doing things that I have doubt about.

As for the Sunday obligation. I sometimes miss fulfilling it at my own parish, but I always make sure to go to Mass at some point during the weekend services. I would not take work that made it impossible for me to get to Mass.

As to knowing why I am Catholic… don’t want to be boastful, but I am an adult convert to the Catholic Church from the types of churches that I play at now. So, I pretty much know why I am Catholic.

Thanks guys.

I did the music for a Protestant funeral. My conscience doesn’t bother me in the least. I was told it was a great comfort to the family and friends who had gathered. They also paid me and I had no problem with that either as I had to take time off from work. I don’t really see the problem unless it becomes a spiritual problem for you. What’s wrong with helping people praise God? We had a lady that played organ both for the Episcopalian Church as well as ours and our priest was well aware and did’nt have a problem with her doing so.

You are absolutely right, this is an individual issue that you must discern for yourself. If you were a new Catholic, and not strong in your faith, any spiritual director would urge you to avoid a situation where your faith might be malformed. If working in that environment is an impediment to your own faith, then of course you should not do it.

However, if it is just a job to you, and your conscience is not violated, then you will not be at risk like the next person might with a weaker faith.

As far as participating in a Protestant service, we are called to be at peace with all. The Church does not forbid us to attend a Protestant service (as used to be the case) or to work for a Protestant employer, or building owned by a non-Catholic, religious or not. If you are clear in your conscience that you are not promoting any error or moral wrongdoing, then you are are not prohibited from this kind of activity.

All non-Catholic ecclesial communities will only have parts of the Truth, but for the most part they do the best they can with what they have. People participate in them sincerely, and truly desire to know and serve God. It is not wrong to support such desires and activities. Remember that Paul always went first to the synagogue in every city he visited, trying to reach he Jews with the Christian message. You may be the only Catholic some of those people have ever met, and your peaceful presence may do a great deal to heal some of the divisions that exist.

Since the Church does not rule on this matter, and it is an individual moral decision, you can also trust God to show you without question if it is not right for you to be there, and you need to leave/quit the job. He is able to reach you, especially since you are conscientious as you clearly are, and he will direct your path.

Thanks for the reply. Though I do think that it is true that if I was leading prayers or doing sermons or scripture readings or praying over/receiving communion that then I would be violating some sort of Catholic law that says we are not to administer over the liturgy of other denominations. I do understand that there is a formal proclamation on that, and I just wanted to make sure that what I am doing is not considered a formal carrying out of the liturgy in the way that particular canon would forbid. I guess I am carrying out the music portion of the service, as a member of a team, but not really making sure it gets planned or led. I am more hired to color the way it goes then to lead it.

Thanks again all.

This is what Cardinal Arinze has to say:

For special occasions it can be okay, but not regularly.

I’m not a muso, although I sort of play the guitar after a fashion. Provided the strings are tuned with an electronic tuner, and the chords are in front of me (I’m signicantly hard of hearing, so playing by ear is out of the question…).

However we had a Protestant organising and leading our music for a few years, and paid for it, for the simple reason we couldn’t get a Catholic with the time and qualifications to do so. He was a good bloke too. While he hasn’t become Catholic (as far as I know), it was noticeable that after a while he was crossing himself etc. in all the appropriate places, and once commented to me that he sometimes preferred our way of doing things to that in his own rather “fundamentalist” church.

In the end he resigned, mainly because he had attained a full time teaching position, and we didn’t have the money anyway.

f it’s good enough for a Protestant to make a few dollars leading the music in a Catholic Church, then I don’t see why a Catholic can’t make a few dollars as a musician in a Protestant Church. I doubt whether you’re getting big money for it, and it gives you a chance to perform and in doing so, keep up your musical skills.

The main thing to be wary of is that you don’t become influenced by their doctrinal differences. Other than that, I can’t see an issue. And it’s often difficult for musicians to find paid work, unless you’re going to work in a rock band in a pub or whatever.

Q - “What’s the correct form of address for a rock guitarist wearing a three piece suit?”

A - “Will the defendant please rise!”


  • You are doing this are part of earning your living. It is not a matter of “volunteerism” and how you are spending your free time.
  • My church growing up had a non-Catholic playing the organ/piano (husband was Catholic)
  • All protestant churches are not equal…some very anti-Catholic.
  • I would not want to play music at a protestant church where the Church was an auditorium and you were on stage. I would want to play in a more sacred setting.
  • Also could be seen as a good opportunity to be a witness for your Catholic faith although I would not do it for that as a reason.


I would agree because in the examples the OP gives with plumbers, electricians, carpenters, etc. These are all temporary situations. The primary job isn’t at that church, and they may have other jobs that same day, so it’s not a good comparison.

Well, the Cardinal cites two aspects in his pastoral advice, neither of which may apply to the OP. First of all the question pertains to a youth, apparently still in Jr. or Sr. high school, whose faith may be vulnerable. He says she may be led astray into participating in a form of worship that is not in communion with Catholic faith. That does not seem to be the case with our OP.

The second relates to the creation of scandal in the Church. He is saying that participating regularly in a Protestant service can create the impression that it is considered on an equal level or equal value to the Catholic Mass, which it is not. This is something that must be determined by the OP, in conversation with his spiritual director or pastor.

Youth are particularly vulnerable in these cases because they can be easily led astray by the emotional nature of so many modern Evangelical services. Youth need and want connection, and emotional meaning, so a service that focuses on that has the potential to draw them away from the Mass, which we do not attend to gratify our own emotions.

Yeah, I’d say!! Very big differences!! :eek: Perhaps a less caustic analogy would have been in order. :cool:


I’m thinking that if unity is the real point for Catholics, then less needs to be made of being present or participating in other worship services. You really can’t have it both ways can you?

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