We’ve all been in worship services when we get to the end and think “I wish I could have sung those songs.” But they were all either too high or too low. You might have risked a harmony line here or there, but stopped singing because you were scared that the person next to you might have thought you were trying to “show off” or be “cool,” when really… you just wanted to sing!

This is often the scenario we face as women when led by a male worship leader. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when men lead worship! But when they only sing in male keys and are not accompanied by a female singer, it becomes difficult for some of us to worship. We feel self conscious about our voices or ability, rather than free to worship alongside our brothers.

Recently, I led a women’s conference for our home church in the Bay Area. I was so surprised that first evening when we started singing and the room erupted in one of the loudest, most beautiful combination of voices I have heard in a long time. The ladies sang their hearts out to the Lord as they joined together to create one voice. To my surprise, the most consistent feedback I heard throughout the weekend were things like:

  • “Thank you for letting us sing.”
  • “I was able to sing in every song…!”
  • “It’s in my key… thank you for choosing songs in my key.”

These women were so excited to be able to sing songs easily, which allowed them to worship. It hit me that it felt unique for them to be able to do so, because they’re so used to being led by a male leader. Maybe you can relate. It made me ask myself these questions: Are we as leaders carefully thinking through the keys that we choose for songs? Do we realize that the power of the keys or the singers we choose to sing them have the ability to help or hurt the congregation from engaging in worship?

It is nearly impossible to pick songs in keys that are equally easy for both genders to participate in, while still sounding good from the stage. However, we need to acknowledge the missed opportunity that often arises from not thinking through this detail. Maybe there are more benefits to alternating between male and female vocalists with varying male and female keys than we realize. Perhaps we need to challenge ourselves to sing in keys that are less “natural” for us, to make the worship set more singable for the overall congregation.

What do you think? Are there are other creative alternatives to developing services that give the whole congregation equal opportunity to engage? We’d love to hear your thoughts!