Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Women Worship Leaders - Just a Few Thoughts

May women lead in worship?

The answer to such a question should be obvious, but unfortunately the church has been influenced by the world and consequently the answer to what should be an easy question is no longer obvious to so many Christians.

Worship is often led by women even in churches that believe only men may be elders. Such a worship practice if consistent with the unique teaching role of elders presupposes that worship is not to be accompanied by biblical instruction. In other words, if women may lead worship yet not teach the congregation, then worship may be void of biblical instruction. Yet then how can women lead God’s people in biblical worship that engages the emotions through the mind? Is to lead worship simply a matter of hitting the right note? No, and women “worship leaders” appreciate that much, which is why they so often step out of their God-given comfort zone in order to exhort in their leading. Accordingly, when women lead in worship any adherence to the unique teaching role given to men is undermined.

The elders, if they do their job, will protect the congregation, including their women, from such an unnatural, demeaning practice. Yes, demeaning. It’s demeaning for a woman to do man’s calling, just like it would be demeaning for a man to submit to his wife in all things. Gender confusion is always ugly.

It is the pastor, in the representative service of the Lord, who is ultimately responsible for leading congregational worship on earth. The pastor who operates in the name of Christ is the worship leader. It's an indicative. It comes with the job. A worship leader should be prepared to exegete hymns and Psalms for the congregation, which a woman simply may not do even if she can. A great worship leader can be tone deaf but that is because he is not merely to lead the music but rather is to direct the hearts and minds of the congregants to the triune God who receives congregational worship in Christ.

The answer to the question should be obvious. Women may not lead worship because women may not lead God’s people. Let's be loving to our sisters in Christ and in humble obedience lead them out of such roles.

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the weaker sex said...


Thank you for that post. I never looked at it that way. Worship should include instruction and that's why women aren't supposed to lead in worship. Good points. IMHO like you said it is demeaning to women but it is also demeaning to men too! When women lead men have to follow. :)

Reformed Apologist said...

"IMHO like you said it is demeaning to women but it is also demeaning to men too! When women lead men have to follow."

Yes, point well taken. My hope is that if men will not protect their own God-given dignity by leading as they ought, then maybe - just maybe, they will be chivalrous enough to rescue women from being sucked into spaces that men were designed to fill. I’m not excusing women who occupy these spaces; it’s just that men, specifically elders, are mostly to blame, for if they did their job - women could not do it for them and they could return to being ladies in the church.

The problem seems to be that too many ordained servants are no longer horrified by their own emasculation. They're often long on excuses and in the end become masters of rationalization. If they even recognize the problem, it will often become the pastor's fault, or they'll say the congregation just isn't ready for such change. Sure, there is such a thing as exasperating a congregation by changing too quickly, but that is rarely the reason why things are the way they are. In such cases, the session should be moving with purpose and deliberation. Unfortunately, in the final analyses there's usually plenty of excuses but never an admission of personal guilt. It is very sad and shameful because it just doesn't have to be that way.

Best wishes,


Don said...

Very well said, brother! I've never read such a concise and clear argument on the issue. Thanks!

Kyle said...


The problem is that the church no longer has confidence in Word and Sacrament and *sincere* worship. God needs to become the object of our devotion and right now it is man's desires.

Keep up the good work!


Reformed Apologist said...

Thanks, Don.

Kyle, it could very well be a matter of faith (or confidence as you put it). I also agree that our worship can tend to be horizontal and not verticle, if that's what you are getting at with your comment about the object of devotion. It's very possible though that our dear brothers and sisters are just unaware of what I would call the ordinary means of grace. If teaching is resisted, then it is a matter of faith, but before I say that, I would want to know whether "fact" has been put forth in order for faith to be exercised. In other words, biblical instruction must be present for faith to be exercised in this regard. But to your points, a word of testimony often invokes more emotion than communing with God in the Sacrament. Sadly, most testimonies don't even speak to the question of how one can find peace with God, the gospel.

Anonymous said...

Whats next? Woman can't raise their hands in worship?

Reformed Apologist said...

Certainly you must draw a distinction between a woman raising holy hands and a woman teaching.

Padded Cell Princess said...

It was never out of my God given comfort zone to lead many Sunday school classes and also lead worship because God lead me to do it. I think you should study your history a bit more because the verses that Paul mentions in Timothy about women being silent etc. etc. were addressed to a specific church with a specific problem with women being too over the top. This was not meant for other churches, it was for this church in particular. Priscilla was a great leader who Paul knew and he didn't condemn her. Notice how she is always mentioned before her husband? That gives context to show that she probably had a greater position in the church than her husband. Luke did write Acts where the main mentioning of Priscilla is in chapter 12 but Paul wrote Romans and in chapter 16 he wonderfully starts out with Pheobe, a deacon and then he does go on to mention other women including Priscilla (still listed before her husband) which would seem contradictory to his Timothy mention of women's position in the church...but that's because if you know your history thoroughly, then you would know that his Timothy passage was not meant for all of the other churches, or to the deacon Pheobe, or Priscilla, or the other women he gladly gave due notice to their churchly roles. Now even with all of this information, I still doubt that due to all those years of 'old school' tradition this information will necessarily sway you, which is sad since leaving out women in leadership will stunt many spiritual growths and salvations.

Reformed Apologist said...

It was never out of my God given comfort zone to lead many Sunday school classes and also lead worship because God lead me to do it.

Well, if God led you to do something that was pleasing in his sight then what can one say other than on what basis do you know that God led you? Did God speak to you? Secondly, I would hope you will agree that God would never be pleased with you doing something contrary to his precepts, so that you think God led you to do this or that is to beg the question of whether he calls women to lead congregations in worship.

I think you should study your history a bit more because the verses that Paul mentions in Timothy about women being silent etc. etc. were addressed to a specific church with a specific problem with women being too over the top.

If you take that approach to Scripture, then why not say that the Lord’s Supper was instituted only for the twelve, to show forth Christ’s death until he returns, and then also given to the church at Corinth but not to the congregation I attend. Your approach to Scripture ends up allowing you to pick and choose in an arbitrary fashion which principles are universal and which are not.

This was not meant for other churches, it was for this church in particular. Priscilla was a great leader who Paul knew and he didn't condemn her.

I don’t remember Priscilla leading a congregation in worship.

As for the rest of the manner in which you instructed me, you simply underscore the brassiness of women who don’t know their place in Christ’s church.

Padded Cell Princess said...

I will leave it at, my final statement that your 'old school' tradition ultimately would rule your decision on my comment was what I expected. As to your final statement that the 'manner in which I instructed you', well just let me say that YOU do NOT instruct me and I will leave God to set the record straight when we meet Him because I will give up on 'high horsed' men who like whatever power trip they get over the thought that they can put "brass" Christian women like me in their 'rightful place'. Praise God for His direction in my life and never telling me to do something other than His will! And He's led me into a life of missions that my husband and I are currently on so I can hope to see more women in ministry and leadership and worship in the future. All for HIS glory!! (since He uses ANY vessel, male or female, Jew or Gentile).

the weaker sex said said...

Padded Cell Princes said: "YOU do NOT instruct me..."

No doubt Ron does not instruct you. Who in their right mind would presume to do so if they were not called to do so? I'm very sorry for you and even more sorry for your husband I think.

Anonymous said...

As I was reading Padded Cell Princess's comments, I was struck by how much she was making Ron's point. Being a woman myself, I sincerely feel sorry for her. When I watch women lead in worship the passage that comes to my mind is the one that references the fall's effect upon women which states that the woman will want to rule over her husband. Although the woman leading is not ruling over just her husband, but if it is wrong for her to rule over her husband, all the more so, wouldn't it be wrong to rule over other people's husbands? Clearly, Padded Cell did not seem to exude a "gentle and quiet spirit" which is precious in God's site, in the way in which she interacted with Ron. Rather she seems frustrated -- and all I can assume is that she simply doesn't like God's design for women and is indeed frustrated. Which, if that is the case, is very sad. God's design for women is beautiful and a cherished place in His kingdom. Praying she will grow in peace with who God made her to be.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Princess,

You really should be slower to speak and quicker to learn. You posture yourself as if you have arrived and you have only just begun. I saw your comment on the Rapture post and I think you would do well to find your place in the world. I wish you no harm and appreciate your zeal but you lack understanding and as Anonymous said you lack a gentle and quiet spirit. Even if all you said was correct and I am sure it wasn't you lack humility. May God grant you the grace to go back and read your posts with a contrite heart.

You never answered the question from Reformed Apologist. Did God tell you that you are called to lead in worship?


Alex Harrington said...

What about women prophetesses? Deborah was a prophetess and a judge to the nation. Can you prophesy without speaking? Cause paul said for women not to speak in church? Phillip also had daughters who were prophetesses. And isnt the role of the prophet one of the 5 fold ministry? And the 5 fold ministry is one of the governing bodies of the church is it not? It is hard to govern if you cannot lead, and to be a prophet but not equip the saints because you are restricted by gender seems a contradiction doesnt it?

Also what about miriam? didnt she lead the worship when the israelites came out of egypt?

Reformed Apologist said...

Hi Alex,

Women may teach, but they are to teach women and children. Proverbs 31:1; Titus 2:3, 4

In a restricted capacity women may teach men: Acts 18:26; 21:9; John 4:28 – 42, but we may not take those restricted instances and apply them to the church, for we have clear instruction for the church: Apostles were all men, Acts 1:13; Elders are all to be men, 1 Timothy 3:1,2; Titus 1:5,6
Moreover, women are to be subject to men in spiritual matters, 1 Timothy 2:11-14, and women are to be silent in this regard, 1 Corinthians 14:34,35

By your use of OT circumstances, we might well institute animal sacrfices in the local congregations of the NT church. In other words, it's hazardous to proof-text unusual circumstances in the OT and call them normative for the NT church, especially in light of NT revelation that (i) forbids women to teach men and rule and (ii) assigns such leadership roles and responsibilties to men only.

Alex Harrington said...


So no doubt men rule over women in the church but arent they supposed to empower them as Christ empowered the church? God is the head of Christ and what did He do? He raised him up from the dead and now he is seated at the right hand of the father. Christ is the head of the church and what has he done? He has raised us up and seated in heavenly places and now we are co-heirs with Christ. We co-reign together. Then man is the head of every women, should we not be empowering them? Raising them up and co-reinging with them as we co-reign with Christ?

And im glad you bought up the old testament. If God would appoint a women judge over a nation in the old covenant how much more would he empower women in the new covenant which is that much more glorious? Its seems odd to me that Jesus Christ the one who came to set the captives free, would usher in a new covenant thats seems to restrict and oppress women more than the old covenant, the ministry of death? Yet in this new covenant it seems that men use certain portions of scripture to hold over and manipulate women into not being co-heirs and co-reigners but as a less person in christ?

Value your input. Thanks

Reformed Apologist said...

Alex, it seems that you allow men to rule over women in the church but that you won't let Scripture regulate that premise. You seem to suggest that co-heirs with Christ equates to co-equal with respect to roles; yet such a notion contradicts the verses I've offered. The equality of men and women is harmonious with God's revealed prescription and regulation of their respective roles. It's only a fallen view of the revealed roles in Scripture that turns what is a beautiful design into something unruly and worldly in practice

Alex Harrington said...

"Alex, it seems that you allow men to rule over women in the church but that you won't let Scripture regulate that premise."

Sorry i dont quite understand what you mean? Isnt the premise that men do rule over women? And that is the parameters the scriptures set? Im a bit confused to what you mean.

And suggesting that co-heirs equates to co-equals? well yes and no. I think the model Jesus has set is how man should use his authority over women dont you? See Jesus is the head of the church, but he gave us all authority did he not? And when we pray i am guessing the majority of people end in "in Jesus name". Why? you may co-reign with Christ but it doesnt mean you step outside his covering if you know what I mean? See the name of Jesus is above all names and it is his blood that covers us, Jesus is our covering. You see we can submit to Jesus, come under his covering and yet he will raise us up to heavenly places and say to us "we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us". Whether it be healing the sick, cleansing the leper, casting out demons or even worship leading. See when we come under that covering of Jesus, and not in our own strength, there is nothing we cannot do.

How do we (men) then use Christs example over women? That is my question to you. Its seems odd that in the world a women could run for president over a nation, in the old covenant God would appoint a women Judge over a nation, yet in the new covenant she cannot even be an apotle of the church? It would seem that the glory in this regard, (the empowering of women) is less than the empowering of women in the old covenant and even that of the world?

I guess the question may not be the equality of men and women then, (although in my opinion they are), but rather the empowering of women. Would you agree?

Look forward to hearing you thoughts.

Alex Harrington said...

sorry, just wanted to perhaps edit or clarify one of my comments. When i said men and women are equal. I think there is a definite order, as there is with the five fold. but in my opinion when women truly are empowered as i think they should be, then the essentialy become equal to the men they submit to. If that makes sense.

Reformed Apologist said...


It's customary to interact with the other person's argument when debating an issue. I offered the argument that the NT forbids women to assume such roles in corporate worship. Your position, if true, places you at odds w/ the NT.

Moreover, rather than refute those Scriptural arguments from the NT, you simply reason from the non-pastoral roles women had in the OT to their assuming of pastoral roles in the NT. In other words, you're not arguing against my position. You're just giving me your opinion.

Alex Harrington said...

I guess your right in a way. I dont argue to be right i argue to learn. It was your initial post and opinion on women in church that opened the door for discussion on the topic. I dont have the fancy words or the extensive bible knowledge to argue to win the oppostion so rather i just put forward my views and opinions to test the integrity of them. Doing so by putting them up against a more knowledgeable person as yourself. Im not even 21 yet but i do love theology with a passion. And i would hope that the older generation would have the patience to be able to impart into an up and coming generation.

However I do understand that I could be quite frustrating as peter was to Jesus. Yet after all of his incompetence Jesus said that he was the rock on which he would build the church.

If you wish me to stop asking questions i will respect that.

Reformed Apologist said...


Please don't take me the wrong way. Ask away, my brother. I simply want to see some progression, that's all. :) My only point is that the best way to "argue to learn" (as you put it) is to argue in such a way that would interact with the position.

I appreciate your inquiries. Iron sharpens iron. :)

Francesca said...

Dear Dad,

I was looking up the verses you gave to Mr. Harrington and I came upon Proverbs 31:1 and I think you meant Proverbs 31:3 instead.



Reformed Apologist said...

You are very correct, my dear. :)



Unknown said...

Seems to me that you may just have an issue with men having authority. I come to this conclusion by the tone of your comment. Or then again maybe not???

Unknown said...

Seems to me that you may just have an issue with men having authority. I come to this conclusion by the tone of your comment. Or then again maybe not???

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your thoughts on the matter. I hold to a complementarian position concerning men and women in the church. I think God is clear that men are to be servant leaders (following the model of Christ), and men are to be the spiritual leaders, with women being in submission to me. I would add that I believe scripture teaches women can serve as deacons in the sense of being helpers, but not in the sense of a position of leadership over men. Elders are to be men who have shown leadership in their families. I would add that men should submit to their wives when their wives bring up something the husband needs to know, much like iron sharpens iron, without giving up their role as spiritual leader.

I see nothing wrong with women participating as part of a worship team to help lead people to worship God. But I think that since worship leaders are spiritual leaders (even if not officially so), and as such should be men - especially those who use songs to each biblical truths, and even more so those who speak to the congregation in the course of moving people from one song to another and share biblical truth.

Reformed Apologist said...

Regarding women deacons, presumably you mean apart from the laying on of hands. That being so, why the acknowledgment in a public worship service? Should we parade before the church (in a worship service no less) all those with other non ordainable gifts? Then to see them all congratulating themselves while the rest of the congregation has already begun worshipping again is very sad and dishonoring to the Lord. Just another example of the culture infecting the purity of the church.

So you draw a distinction between those on the worship team and the worship leaders. Seems to me a distinction without a practical difference.

Sara said...

I wholeheartedly agree with your comments and appreciate your responses. I'm so glad the Lord has used You in the amazing roles you've had and I know He will continue to bless you and use your gifts for the advancement of His kingdom.

Sara said...

I think your taking that verse out of context and coming up with your own interpretation.

Sara said...

Thank you for your responses. I hope you will continue to empower women in the gifts God has given them. As a worship leader myself, it has been a very difficult road for me being limited by my gender. These type of posts reveal the pharisees we've become. It's very convenient that pastoral positions get power and pay, and that we've turned so many positions within the church into pastoral positions when Jesus Himself said not many of us should call ourselves teachers. We've not established any valuable roles for women that come with status and salary. We've decided men are the most important because clearly they are the only ones capable of teaching Scripture.
I consider myself to be a worship leader equal to any "worship pastor". Other women should do the same. What a sad thought that we would devalue humans that want to worship God and inspire others to do the same! Our very purpose. Your voice is very important because as a man, you have power. Other men will listen to you. They will not listen to women.