Years ago, I was asked to lead worship at a summer camp for a small church. I felt elated to help kids experience God, and hammered out the details with their youth pastor over the phone.
The next day he called back and canceled because the church board wanted him to go with someone else. He felt bad telling me, but I gleaned that they weren’t comfortable having me there because it didn’t seem to line up with their traditional structure for leadership. Translation: a female in a key role was a no-go.
Fast forward a decade to my current job at Inland Hills Church that I love so much.
The team of directors held an interview for a media designer position on a day I missed work, and gave me the update later. The job candidate had reported that he loved the service he attended, but wished there was a guy leading worship, “so he could really lead me.” The directors that were there (four guys) gave him awkward looks until he broke the silence with a (sort-of) apology.
It made me chuckle to hear their story, though I am sorry the interviewee didn’t turn out to be a good fit for our very co-ed staff.
Even though we live in the 21st century and women like Darlene Zschech have forged a great path, there are many Christians who feel more comfortable with a man taking the role of worship leader, director, speaker and/or pastor on staff than a woman. And that’s ok! We will all hang out in Heaven.
Personally, I haven’t found any verses that say, “Women can certainly lead other women, kids, and people younger than them sometimes, but not adults unless a guy’s standing right beside them on stage,” but if I come across one in my devotion time, I’ll be sure and let you know.
And since I can’t find any place in Scripture that separates the Spiritual Gifts list into guys and girls, I’m going to keep ushering people into God’s Presence like I’ve been called to do.
So, how do we respond when people share their thoughts on women in church leadership, and they’re different than our own? Here are some great tips from Scripture to help us navigate those tricky conversations:
1. Don’t retaliate. Check this out: “When they hurled insults at Him, He did not retaliate. When He suffered, He did not threaten. It was His habit to commit the matter to the One Who judges fairly.” 1 Peter 2:23 (NIV). Whenever a brother or sister shares an opinion with me, it’s more important to show them honor and respect than to defend my position. It’s unlikely something I say is going to be the catalyst to a big theological shift; I’ve found the Righteous Judge to be a more convincing voice for things like that. My goal is simply to love.
2. Stay confident. “…having confidence of this very thing, that He Who has begun in you a good work will complete it unto Jesus Christ’s day.” Philippians 1:6 (DBT). There are always going to be varying views, but if God confirms in your spirit, your inner circle of believers/mentors, and in Scripture that you’re on the right path, then don’t look back! I’ve found, in my personal experience, the people who are most vocal to me about my ministry being unbiblical are a certain personality type. And they may not have done days of study on the Greek in those two verses they’re pulling out. If you observed this person, you might see them get offended by more than one Christian doing more than one thing they don’t think is right. Mature Christians bear FRUIT. If they don’t seem loving, peaceful, gentle and kind, how much influence should they really have on you?
3. Thank God. “Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (HCSB). Let’s pray together. God, THANK YOU for opening the door for me to serve people. Thank You for YOUR WILL in my life. Thank You for hard conversations that teach me, stretch me, and help me run to You. Thank You for opportunities to show patience and grace like You’ve shown me. Thank You for the mosaic of believers and the harmony of Heaven - where we’ll all know fully, as we’re fully known.
What are your thoughts and experiences with the role of women in worship? Make sure to leave a comment below and share with us.