Is it Biblical for a Woman to Lead Worship?

I received this question from Tracy:

My husband has recently become a Pastor in a small Outback Queensland (Australia) church and holds a complementarian view of women in ministry. This is a very uncommon viewpoint in the church movement my husband is Pastoring under. We have had queries as to if I will lead worship which has left both my husband and I with our own questions as we can’t see a biblical precedent for women as worship leaders…What do you see as a woman’s place in worship and is it permissible for a woman to be a worship leader?

I’ve been asked this question numerous times and thought Tracy’s particular situation would give me the opportunity to address some of the nuances of this topic. I’m aware that this question applies to a number of you who read this blog. Thank you for reading, and thank you for seeking to glorify God with your life. You may already be poised to agree or disagree with what I’m about to say. So let me start with the punch line. First, what is a woman’s place in a worship service? The same as a man’s – at the foot of the cross of Christ, praising God in the power of the Spirit for the mercy he’s shown us in the Savior. Second, is it biblical for a woman to lead a worship service? Yes and no. There. That clears everything up, doesn’t it?

As Tracy mentions, besides Miriam leading the women in Exodus 15:20, there aren’t many examples of women leading worship in Scripture. It seems the Levites who led the singing at the Temple were men (1 Chron. 25). So to answer Tracy’s question, or a similar one, I’d need to find out two things.

1. What is a particular church’s biblical understanding of the roles of men and women?

Whether they’re aware of it or not, most churches fall into one of two camps regarding gender roles – egalitarian or complementarian. Both views believe the Bible teaches that men and women possess equal worth in God’s sight. Those with an egalitarian perspective go on to say that all opportunities for ministry in the church, including pastoral care, teaching, preaching, and leading worship, are open to both men and women. They highlight the way women were used in Scriptures like Acts 1:14, 18:26, 21:9; and Rom 16:1-7. In other words, if a church holds an egalitarian perspective, women leading worship isn’t an issue.

But those who hold a complementarian view believe that masculine and feminine roles are ordained by God as part of the created order, both in the church and the family. They understand that, “redemption in Christ gives men and women an equal share in the blessings of salvation; nevertheless, some governing and teaching roles within the church are restricted to men” (from The Danvers Statement, produced by the Çouncil on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood). This belief is based on Scriptures like 1 Cor 11:2-16; 1 Cor. 14:33-36; 1 Tim 2:11-15; and Col. 3:18-19.

Since Tracy and her husband believe, as I do, that God has designed men and women to serve others in complementary ways, that leads to a second question. (If you’d like to read more about what Scripture teaches on this topic, I’d recommend Fifty Crucial Questions, and the on-line articles offered by CBMW).

2. What is the nature of the worship leading role?

Part of the difficulty in answering this question is that the New Testament doesn’t contain a worship leader job description. What exactly does the worship leader do? That title can describe a number of functions – song leader, singer, band member, music minister, or worship pastor, to name a few. Randy Stinson offers some helpful insight in his booklet, Women in Ministry, when asked if a woman should lead worship in a church.

It would depend on how that particular church understands the degree of authority that she holds over the assembled congregation and the extent to which she provides instruction. Is her position understood as one of authority over the congregation similar to a pastor/elder? Does she provide doctrinal commentary between songs or other doctrinal instruction to the choir or congregation? Does her “leading” involve the exercising of authority over others or, rather, the providing of leadership regarding timing, tempo, music, etc.? Does she direct the church to a particular song in a hymnal and invite those assembled to praise the Lord, or does she engage in more biblical exhortation like a pastor?

In the church, the pastor is ultimately responsible for leading congregational worship. But that doesn’t mean our worship leaders have to be pastors. However, in Sovereign Grace churches, given the importance of congregational singing, our worship leaders are fulfilling a very important role. They aren’t simply leading “music”–we desire them to direct people’s hearts, minds, and wills to the truths that they’re singing. Their role includes elements that involve a degree of teaching, leading, and pastoring, which we believe the Bible says are male roles in the church. For that reason, all our worship leaders are men. But women make a significant contribution to our corporate worship through singing, playing instruments, reading Scripture, song writing, arranging, leading choirs, modeling expressive engagement, contributing prophetic impressions, and more. So in Tracy’s situation, I would encourage her husband to unapologetically lead the congregation in worship while Tracy enthusiastically supports him with her musical gifts.

Of course, it’s completely appropriate for a woman to lead worship at a women’s gathering, and to view the worship leader role in other ways. My concern isn’t to persuade anyone that this is the only way to approach this position, and my perspective doesn’t keep me from appreciating the work of those who think differently. But I do want to draw attention to the wisdom and beauty of God’s design for the unique but complementary roles men and women play in serving the church.

As you might guess, I’ve had numerous discussions with women on this topic. Some have thanked me for confirming what they believe Scripture actually teaches. Others have resented me for even implying that God didn’t tell them to lead worship.

But what I think doesn’t really matter. Scripture teaches there is a Christ-exalting beauty, strength, attraction, and joy in fulfilling our unique roles as men and women in the body of Christ. The world often only sees domineering/wimpy men or doormat/aggressive women. The Gospel produces something better – men and women, both made in the image of God, glorifying their Maker by modeling a compelling picture of biblical masculinity and femininity. In a world that is increasingly confused about the meaning of sexuality and gender, that can only be good news and something worth pursuing.

For more on this topic, download the following free messages from the Sovereign Grace site:
Biblical Manhood and Womanhood by Dr. Wayne Grudem
Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: Why it Matters by Jeff Purswell
Why Roles Matter for Small Groups by Jeff Purswell


40 Responses to Is it Biblical for a Woman to Lead Worship?

  1. Bill Bell March 4, 2007 at 2:51 PM #

    Thanks, Bob, for drawing the discussion back to the Gospel, as you always do. No matter where one falls in the complementarian/egalitarian debate, the fact that we have been redeemed and reconciled by the blood of Christ must be central in all things.

    I would agree with you about the complementarian nature of the roles of men and women in the church, where pastoral roles are reserved for men. As such, a female could be a worship leader if she were not functioning pastorally in her role (exhorting/teaching), but she shouldn’t be a “Worship Pastor” or something similar. Even though I’m not a woman, I don’t think this idea is unreasonable. Here’s why I say this: I was a worship leader at a church that had elders, but I wasn’t an elder myself. Therefore, while I did lead worship, I had limitations as to what I could do because I was not a pastor. This was very difficult in many circumstances because I wanted to function pastorally, but I think it was right for me to try to do and say less so that I wouldn’t overstep my authority (or lack thereof). I think the situation is similar when a woman leads worship.

    In any case, as you said, it is ultimately the responsibility of the pastors to “lead worship,” so it is most natural for a worship leader to be one of the pastors. That just doesn’t always happen. And it is the responsibility of those who are not pastors (men or women) to submit to their overseers. In the end, though, I’m a young fool who could totally be misreading the entire situation. And I would welcome correction if it is needed.

  2. Bob Kauflin March 4, 2007 at 3:57 PM #


    Great comments. I think part of the reason this area has become so confusing is that the worship leader model for many churches consists of an individual leading the congregation from the center of the platform for one-third to one-half of the meeting. Even if that person is acting under a pastor’s oversight, it’s difficult not to interpret that position as authoritative in some sense. Overall, I think the church would be greatly served if pastors were more visibly involved in the leadership of congregational singing.

  3. Matt March 4, 2007 at 4:59 PM #

    Hey Bob,

    Great post, I think you very sensitively addressed the issues on both sides of the coin. I’ve wrestled with this issue, and I think I’ve changed my stance several times over the years as God continues to shape me.

    Here’s a question about something you said. You mentioned,
    “They aren’t simply leading “music”–we desire them to direct people’s hearts, minds, and wills to the truths that they’re singing. Their role includes elements that involve a degree of teaching, leading, and pastoring, which we believe the Bible says are male roles in the church.”

    I don’t really see the difference between those roles above, and some of these:
    “But women make a significant contribution to our corporate worship through singing, playing instruments, reading Scripture, song writing, arranging, leading choirs, modeling expressive engagement, contributing prophetic impressions, and more.”

    Wouldn’t these actions that you do allow women to participate in also contain some aspects of teaching, leading, and pastoring? Especially when it comes to song writing, leading choirs, and contributing prophetically.

    I don’t think I disagree with you at all… I just noticed this and something didn’t quite fit together in my mind, so I’m playing the devil’s advocate, so to speak. Looking forward to hearing your response.

    Through the cross,

  4. Bob Kauflin March 4, 2007 at 5:40 PM #


    Great question. Thanks for bringing it up. I knew when I started this post that loose ends were inevitable, otherwise I’d be writing a multi-page article, if not a book.

    The male leader/teacher/pastor role refers to elements that are spiritual, verbal, and direct. Singing, playing an instrument, and leading a choir are primarily musical roles, so they can be fulfilled by a man or woman. Songs “teach” something, but that’s substantively different from someone standing in front of you unpacking doctrine. Modeling expressiveness is something that anyone in the church can do, as is reading Scripture. Giving prophecies is also open to both men and women (Acts 21:9). All of those are different from exhorting the congregation, pastoring them through verbal comments or prayers, and overseeing the direction of the meeting.

    Hope that’s helpful. If not, let me know.

  5. Matt March 4, 2007 at 10:26 PM #

    Yes, that makes a lot more sense. Thanks!

  6. Nikki March 5, 2007 at 1:49 AM #

    I have a question regarding the quote. It asked the question: “Does her “leading” involve the exercising of authority over others or, rather, the providing of leadership regarding timing, tempo, music, etc.?”

    Is the implication here that if she does offer this type of ‘authority’ it’s unbiblical? or…is the implication that this type of authority is ok. I followed most of what was said…but when i came across this statement it just seemed absurd that a woman could be a composer or director outside of the church but not within. Did i just completely misread this quote? i pray so.

  7. Keith March 5, 2007 at 2:19 AM #

    G’day Bob

    I would hold to male headship with the family and the church family – leading a servant leaders, as thoroughly biblical.

    However pastor/teachers (elders – men)are there for equipping the saints to do the work of the ministry ie serving.

    I cannot see that a woman is excluded in leading the ministry/serving of ‘worship’ if that is what we mean by why we gather as a church. Can a woman lead in prayer? Is that not worship? Can a woman not lead in bible reading or contributing with a word of exhortation? Is that not part of worship? When did singing become ‘worship’ and the rest of the gathering take on another meaning? Is not a woman capable and in some churches more capable than men to discern correct doctrine in what is sung or not? Do not women choose what is sung in Sunday school (if singing again is what is real worship?) Why can’t they choose and make comment on psalms hymns and spiritual songs? It’s not as if they are usurping any authority from the elders (male) of the church. They are using gifts of ministry that hopefully the pastor/teachers have equipped them to use.

    Ideally all these areas are under the servant leaders – the elders (male) who ultimately oversee and are held accountable. When they see or hear of problem they should lovingly step in and correct.

    In the mean time I (even coming from a strict reformed background) have no problem with women leading. (I do have a problem when we have this false dichotomy between sacred/secular, worship/non worship with the body of Christ).

    Keep up the challenging thinking… very Berean!

  8. Jamie Duguid March 5, 2007 at 7:48 AM #

    I just wanted to say I enjoyed your comments today and that I am always edified by your blog posts.

    Jamie Duguid

  9. Ryan March 5, 2007 at 10:19 AM #

    Bob, first of all, thanks for this amazingly thought-out post.

    While I am involved in a more complementarian setting, I still don’t know where I stand on this issue, particularly because of the argument that there are several places in Scripture where Paul seems to encourage a master/slave relationship and doesn’t condemn slavery anywhere, yet we all fight very hard to abolish slavery today. And I don’t really want to get into the whole role issue, but I do have a concern and question about something from the post.

    You said, “Of course, it’s completely appropriate for a woman to lead worship at a women’s gathering.”

    Why is there a difference? If woman shouldn’t be allowed to “lead” worship at a gathering with men & women together, why should they be allowed to do it at a women’s gathering? Shouldn’t the principal apply universally. In other words, either they should be able to lead worship in both settings, or they shouldn’t be able to at all.

    I understand the accountability reason and many other reasons that it would be a bad idea to have a male worship leader at an all-women setting, but it seems odd that if the woman isn’t allowed to lead in a setting with both men and women that she would be allowed to in a settting with just women.

  10. Bob Kauflin March 5, 2007 at 10:51 AM #


    Thanks for the question. You misunderstood Randy Stinson’s quote. Musical leadership is different from spiritual leadership. In our churches, we’ve often used gifted women to direct choirs, write songs, lead vocal sessions, etc. My responses to Matt and Bill fill my thoughts out some. This is one of the areas churches who hold a complementarian view can be confused and one of the reasons I decided to blog on this topic.

  11. Bob Kauflin March 5, 2007 at 11:16 AM #


    You asked:

    If woman shouldn’t be allowed to “lead” worship at a gathering with men & women together, why should they be allowed to do it at a women’s gathering?

    Great question. It has to do with God’s directions in Scriptures like 1 Tim. 2:11-13: “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve.” (Also see 1 Cor. 14:34-35; Titus 1:6) God encourages women to train other women in Titus 2:3-4, which could include an all-women’s gathering. But even there, the focus seems to be more teaching on issues that relate to biblical womanhood than general areas of doctrine. So in a mixed setting (men and women), the clear leadership and teaching elements should come from the men who are present. For a much more detailed explanation on this issue, check out the books at the CBMW site (|Gender_Issues).

  12. Bob Kauflin March 5, 2007 at 11:29 AM #


    Appreciate your thoughtful comments. You’ve identified one of the key problems with this discussion – definition of terms. Worship, as you say, is something that encompasses all of life, and not simply the singing portion of a meeting. But when the church gathers, God cares about order and gender roles. It seems evident from passages like 1 Cor. 14:33-35 (although I’m aware that others would interpret that text differently). The overall sense of Scripture is that spiritual leadership in the church is male. While women are involved in numerous aspects of our Sunday meetings (praying, singing, reading Scripture, prophesying, greeting, ushers, etc.), we take care to insure that leadership, direction, and teaching are provided by the pastors. I think another thing that affects this is size. Our church is 3000+ on a Sunday, so we want to be sure people aren’t wondering who is leading our meetings. That being said, we have worked hard to create a culture where men and women both can joyfully and wholeheartedly embrace their God-ordained roles of service and ministry in the church.

    BTW, I don’t remember ever being associated with the Bereans. But I receive that as encouragement. Thanks for reading the blog.

  13. Ryan March 5, 2007 at 1:02 PM #


    Thanks so much for your response. I have to agree with you, because that is what the Bible says, but I still struggle with the teaching, but yet there are many teachings in the Bible that we as puny humans struggle with but yet we must hold to them. Thanks for tackling a challenging topic.

  14. Trillia N. March 5, 2007 at 7:03 PM #

    Thanks Bob for this post! I have never struggled with this specific topic, but prior to becoming a Christian I would say that I was…well a feminist and gender roles in general was one of my major questions after conversion. I remember my wonderful pastor, Bill, sitting down with me and helping me as I drilled him with questions. He was very gracious to me!

    With that said, I am currently on our worship team as well as an active member of our prophetic team. I have plenty of opportunities to serve the church through worship, prayer and prophecy. Our pastors do a wonderful job at encouraging everyone to serve! I have never once felt “unequal” and am very thankful for their leadership.

    Thanks Bob for tackling this topic. It sure can be confusing but when we look at scripture God has graciously made it clear in regards to pastors.

    In Him,


  15. Keith March 5, 2007 at 10:05 PM #

    G’day again Bob

    I appreciate your gracious gospel centred responses. I still wonder how is it that women can write, compose etc music, lyrics which are theologically sound and are used for the edification of the body and to the glory of God but yet are not allowed to make comment within the congregational meeting time that would take a ‘lead’ on a particular subject? For instance – if we had a woman within our congregation who composed the music score, wrote the lyrics – could she not ‘lead’ the congregation in learning that particular hymn, giving explanation as to how the words or music fit theologically together? Would she then be stepping into the role of pastor/teacher reserved for the males? Would she just have to ‘keep silence’ while a male within the congregation ‘taught’ what this particular sister has composed..? (I know I’m trying to stretch yours and my own thinking….)

    What about another situation….. I was in a ‘mission’ situation where there was a gathering of men and women, and one of the women took time out to teach us the skill of ‘bible storying’, by speaking and acting out particular bible stories. In the broadest sense we were all involved in a corporate act of worship – but there you had a woman instructing men and women together. That’s just how it happens with women missionaries. How is it that we see women leading fledgling churches on the mission ‘field’, but aren’t allowed to lead within ‘established’ churches?

    Take another senario – perhaps a home bible study group…. is that a group of christians worshipping? Maybe yes, maybe no – depends on definitions as to whether music is the only ‘true’ definition for worship. Say for instance that the wife of the bible study group leader (who happens to be the elder), leads the small gathering in a time where she plays the piano within the home, chooses, together with random choices from the gathering some hymns to sing. The ‘group’ enagages in a ‘worship’ time of singing, but as the woman pianist finished playing the hymn for the group she turns around and says – “Thanks everyone – that was really encouraging for us all. Didn’t it just remind us of God’s love, or Christ substitionary atonement, etc etc”) I’ve been in that situation – I’m sure many of us have – it’s beautiful when the whole body is contributing to the edification of all present. But again – she she have kept silence because she was in fact ‘teaching’ something theological to the gathering …… (this leads to bigger questions of course as to when is church a church or not a church..,… I won’t confuse us anymore than maybe I already have).

    Thanks again for your thinking through these things – they are all grist for the mill.

  16. Keith March 5, 2007 at 10:36 PM #

    “Our church is 3000+ on a Sunday, so we want to be sure people aren’t wondering who is leading our meetings.”

    What would be the problem if there actually was a ‘rostered’ woman leader? Would she not be under the authority of the male eldership? Would there be dissension in the ‘ranks’? What particularly marks out a leader of a ‘worship service’ anyway? Are not women capable of choosing hymns, directing prayer (if that is what you mean by ‘worship’), and then handing over the teaching to an elder or male teacher for the ‘sermon’.

    (We have inherited a bunch of religious words in our churches which need explanation – ‘worship’, ‘worship leadership’, ‘sermon’, cringe … and watching head as he writes it …’sanctuary’…)

    Probably if we were really true to scripture (rather than being politically and gender correct pragmatically) the whole of the ‘leadership’ of the gathering (ie our ‘churching’) would be ‘done’ by the elders anyway. Aren’t they the leaders anyway…??? That would stop all arguments.

    How on earth did we ever come to divide our gatherings into worship times/events(ie music driven periods of our gatherings) and non worship times/events(non music driven elements – prayer, reading of the word, breaking of bread etc….!??!!??

  17. Travis Seitler March 6, 2007 at 8:34 AM #


    Great post! You did a good job of laying the foundations of this gender-related issue before tackling the specific question. (I need to do more of that when I write!)

    Actually, I had the same question as Matt, and was wondering… doesn’t one of the passages you mentioned to Ryan (1 Cor. 14:34-35) fall in the context of “speaking” prophetically? Or do you see the women’s silence as a matter of not participating in the interpretation of prophecy? (And how does that come into play when a prophetic word is pre-approved by a pastor and not debated/interpreted afterward?)

    I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on this–I know it’s not directly related to music, but the “prophetic mic” is typically used during the singing portion of the service, so it seems like it’d be… somewhat under your jurisdiction. ;)

  18. Bob Kauflin March 6, 2007 at 2:54 PM #


    You wrote:

    Doesn’t 1 Cor. 14:34-35 fall in the context of “speaking” prophetically? Or do you see the women’s silence as a matter of not participating in the interpretation of prophecy?

    Yes. It’s similar to 1 Cor. 14:28, where Paul tells those who have the gift of tongues but not the gift of interpretation to “keep silent.” He doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t say anything at all, but that they shouldn’t speak in uninterpreted tongues in the context of a meeting. We know that women can prophesy from Scriptures like Acts 21:9 (Philip’s daughters prophesied) and 1 Cor. 11:4-5 (women prophesy). Wayne Grudem does a great job addressing this issue in the 11th chapter of The Gift of Prophecy.

  19. Christy Tennant March 7, 2007 at 2:02 PM #

    As a female worship leader who desperately wants to be faithful to scriptural directives, I have been wrestling with this question for years, at times finding myself on both “sides” of the issue. A question that often plagues me is, why do we hold to the first part of 1 Tim. 2:11-13: (“Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man”) but dismiss the second part (“rather, she is to remain quiet…” As in, with this text as the foundational argument against female leadership, why do you permit women to “make a significant contribution to our corporate worship through singing, playing instruments, reading Scripture, song writing, arranging, leading choirs, modeling expressive engagement, contributing prophetic impressions, and more,” when the entire scriptural directive teaches that “she is to remain quiet.”

  20. Bob Kauflin March 7, 2007 at 4:29 PM #


    Thanks for seeking to work through this issue humbly and biblically. You asked about the application of 1 Tim. 2:11-13. Paul is limiting a woman’s contribution only in the areas of doctrinal teaching and exercising spiritual authority in the congregation. That’s why there’s room for women to serve the body in a variety to ways. Certain groups have taken “she is to remain quiet” comprehensively and don’t allow women to speak at all in meetings. It seems as though that’s saying more than God does in his Word. Hope that’s helpful.

  21. Christy Tennant March 8, 2007 at 10:53 AM #

    Thank you, Bob. I really appreciate your ministry and your humility, especially when you address historically divisive issues. While I love, value, teach, and uphold that God has a unique design for men and women, and I celebrate the different roles to which we are called in marriage and in the home, I guess I see enough biblical support on the other side to remain unpersuaded that God’s directive on the issue of male headship is as hard-and-fast as some teach. But I have no doubt you’ve heard all of the arguments, so I’ll spare you mine! That being said, since I am not fully persuaded one way or the other, I usually err on the side of caution and much prefer to leave the leading up to the men-folk. I confess, though, that my prayer is that the Lord would raise up more men who lead well, so we women with leadership gifts won’t even feel tempted! That is one of the things I appreciate about the SGM guys – your commitment to equipping men as humble and strong leaders in the home and in the church. May the Lord continue to bless and expand your sphere of influence.

  22. Carri March 8, 2007 at 5:11 PM #

    Hi Bob,
    I’m new here. I am a woman worship leader and my husband is our pastor. I’ve always been sensitive to the fact that men are to lead in God’s Church. But the church I grew up in had a woman worship leader and it was never an issue. But now, I’m having second thoughts. I don’t know what else I would do because I’ve been playing and leading worship since the 80’s. I would much prefer to lead our worship team as the music leader and not the worship leader if that is possible. We do not have any men on the worship team so I am not exercising authority over men within the team and my husband (the pastor) will give input when needed at times. So he considers himself “over” the worship, so we are putting the authority on him, but he is not visible during our worship time up front.

    In an earlier post you responded to a woman whose husband was the pastor too and you told her to use her gifts to lead in the music but to have her husband lead in the worship. How would that look? What if the pastor can’t sing very well? Should he be up there on a mic singing? Or should he just stand up there in the pulpit and a way from the mic and be the visual point of authority during the worship? How could we do this, honor God and still use my gift of playing and singing? We are missionaries and there is no one else who can lead. Musical talent is lean where we are (at least in our church) and we are lucky (if I can use that word) to find anyone who can contribute.
    Thank you for your thoughts and for addressing the subject.

  23. Bob Kauflin March 8, 2007 at 6:16 PM #


    Thanks for stopping by and expressing your thoughts so humbly and clearly. I think in your situation, your husband can stand up in front with you and lead through verbal comments and his expressive singing. He doesn’t even have to have a good voice. That’s not required for worshipping God! He can add pastoral and doctrinal direction, and give leadership to the event. It will be obvious that you’re following his lead, but fully exercising your gifts in that context. I think in that way you, your husband, and the church will exemplify the body working together for the honoring of Christ.

    And thank you for glorifying the Savior as a missionary!

    Is that helpful?

  24. Carri March 8, 2007 at 8:36 PM #

    Thank you for your reply. To be honest with you, I don’t think my husband (the pastor) would feel comfortable standing up front during worship just singing or even making any comments. We’ve just never done it that way. In an age where one Pastor is always taking center stage, he doesn’t like being seen as the super star of the church (if you know what I mean). He usually stands in the back of the bldg. and worships alone before he comes up to preach. But I can see now, that is not a good symbolic picture to the church. We usually have a block of worship time without much interruption of words (comments) because that’s the way he likes it to be, so when I’m leading the worship, the most I ever say is a prayer. So my point is that he probably wouldn’t say anything if he were up front. God would have to develop this in him I guess.

    But I think we need to rethink a lot of what we do. My husband is evolving in his convictions regarding how to do church. We are in a time of flux and I see that the Lord is in it. Teaching us things our church background never modelled to us. So this is good! We have recently become very interested in Sovereign Grace Ministries and want to glean all the good that we can from what you guys have learned.
    Thank you and God be glorified!

  25. Caleb White March 9, 2007 at 3:19 AM #

    Got this link from…

    As a worship leader, I really appreciate these thoughts. There are three other people in the group with me who lead worship, and one of them is a girl. I don’t know if it’s relevant or not, but we’re all youth leading in youth group, not at “big people church.” Occasionally, Rachel (our singer) will interject her thoughts between songs while I adjust my tuning and capo. I’m just curious as to what you would think of her telling what a song has meant in her life, or encouraging the assembled group to understand a song in a certain way…is this within the bounds of her role? (of course, I’d probably get slapped for suggesting to her that it might be, but that’s another issue…haha)
    What did you mean by “contributing prophetic impressions?” Does that just mean connecting Scripture to a song, or is it something a bit more pentecostal? ;-)

    Your brother in Christ,
    ~ Caleb (hailing from the US)

  26. Bob Kauflin March 9, 2007 at 7:09 AM #


    You asked about how the issue of gender roles might apply in a youth group setting. Good question. In every context we want to model God’s intention for men to take responsibility for loving and wise leadership in the church and the home. Part of the reason the feminist and egalitarian mindset have become so influential in recent decades is because so many men have abdicated their role or abused it.

    Since I’m not at your church, it’s a little difficult to imagine what it looks like. If Rachel is occasionally contributing thoughts while you’re preparing for the next song, and she’s doing it humbly and it’s clear she’s following your lead, it’s probably not going to be misunderstood. But I don’t know what your church looks like in general, or if what she’s doing sounds like she’s leading or teaching. In our youth meetings the guys lead, and we encourage them to take their leadership responsibility seriously.

    By “prophetic impressions” I mean spontaneous contributions that men or women can make in a meeting, described in 1 Cor. 14:3, 29-32. It might be a Scripture, a sense that we should pray for a group of people, or an encouragement related to some aspect of God’s character. All those contributions are first run by a pastor for evaluation, although if we were smaller, they might be shared first and evaluated afterwards.

  27. Tamara Baker March 11, 2007 at 8:36 PM #

    Hi Bob-
    Thanks for all the great info.. and thanks for being willing to allow us to ask questions on this… It’s a tough issue for many of us. I am currently a member of our worship team, I sing and play piano, but I have led sporadically in the past, not at our church, but more in “concert” settings. I too find the Bible’s instruction on male leadership perfectly agreeable… until I get to this subject! God has been teaching me alot and reshaping my views, and as others have said, my position has changed several times. My question is, if I am not to lead as a regular position in my church, but I feel God has gifted me in this area, is it permissible for me to lead worship “concerts” as special events? In these settings it is more of a concert, but I take the song choices and my preparation very seriously, and in the course of a “worship” time, I try to be sensitive to where I feel the Lord would lead us songwise whether that means adjusting the songlist or saying a prayer. In all honesty, I find speaking any more than that a little intimidating! Would that type of leadership be considered sound? I don’t lead a team, but I would be leading a group of both men and women in worship. Any thoughts?

  28. Bob Kauflin March 11, 2007 at 10:55 PM #


    Thanks for a great question. Since worship concerts aren’t in the context of the local church, it seems that there’s some flexibility there. You’re inviting others to join with you as you sing God’s praises, and not necessarily exercising pastoral leadership or teaching them directly. When done humbly it can be a very encouraging time. I’ve had the opportunity to see people like Christy Nockels (with her husband Nathan) and Kristyn Getty (with her husband Keith) in concert, and both of them use their gifts in a way that is feminine and God-glorifying. However, I’ve encouraged their husbands to contribute leadership even in those settings.

    Obviously, if you’re not married, or your husband isn’t involved musically, that point is irrelevant. But perhaps you could encourage male leadership appropriate to the context you’re in. Bottom line, I’d encourage you to share your songs in a way that communicates a desire to model biblical womanhood as you exalt our great God. And rather than calling myself a worship leader, I’d say I’m a songwriter, a singer, or a Christian musician seeking to bring God glory through my gifts. Sounds to me like that’s what you’re trying to do.

  29. julie March 12, 2007 at 7:32 AM #

    I was wondering if anyone has considered the idea that worship was led by the priests in the OT, and in the NT we have the priesthood of all believers. Though at first I was inclined to think that since in the OT men led the worship it should be the same in the church, I’m not sure this follows in light of the priesthood of all believers. Anyone have any thoughts?

  30. JD Longmire March 12, 2007 at 9:01 AM #


    Excellent topic and wonderful, Scriptural thinking.

    I would like to get your thoughts [and express mine! :)] on the model we are using at our church.

    At our church, the teaching elder or Pastor, presides over the service. I act as the Worship Pastor under his authority with my wife in her role as a Worship Minister. We prepare and lead the Worship ministry together, with the understanding that she is under my authority.

    I like to think of it as a “Priscilla and Aquila” model where we “explain.. to “them” the way of God more adequately”.

    Finally, my wife does, on occasion and with my encouragement, “exhort” the congregation during the singing to worship God with enthusiasm and joy. Do you believe this to be a counter-Scriptural model?

    Richest Blessings!


  31. cavman March 14, 2007 at 1:13 PM #

    Lots of good comments, and certainly a question that pauses us to think. As I thought,…
    I remembered that Miriam led the women in worship. And they basically repeated the chorus that Moses had sung earlier in the chapter.
    So this text shouldn’t be used to justify women leading a mixed congregation, but can certainly be used to justify women leading a group of women.
    The Priscilla & Aquila ‘thing’ was more talking to a brother as opposed to them acting as a ministry team with authority in the church.
    I guess my own earlier thoughts (half baked perhaps) are challenged by what I’m thinking in terms of these texts and others. Still in process… and thinking about how we handle texts, not answering the question per se.

  32. JD Longmire March 15, 2007 at 7:08 AM #

    Thanks for the response, Bob – I really believe that a husband and wife can act as a ministry team. After all, aren’t we (husband and wife) one in the eyes of the Lord? :D

    Truth be told, I am still refining my thoughts on this as well and I appreciate the dialogue you have encouraged.

    Christ’s richest blessings to you!


  33. Tamara March 16, 2007 at 3:54 PM #

    Thanks for the response–I really appreciate you taking the time. And incidentally, Christy Nockels is my favorite role model. :) Thanks again. God bless.

  34. Cheryl at MM Outreach March 25, 2007 at 9:56 PM #


    Interesting thoughts. I am wondering why people even think that the Bible needs to specifically address women doing God’s work thus if the Bible is silent on a woman leading in prayer or leading in worship, then we assume that God doesn’t allow women to participate? How come God allows women along with men to prophesy in the church but then wouldn’t allow them to lead in singing? (1 Cor. 14 Paul says that everyone is allowed to prophesy) I also wonder if any of you have read any of the excellent books on the subject of women in the church from the egalitarian side? It is always helpful to understand both biblical views before one restricts women in the use of their God-given gifts.


  35. Julie April 2, 2007 at 1:11 PM #

    Tim. 2:11-13: “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve.”

    In these verses, the greek word that was translated to “man” actually means husband (andros). Which means that “woman” means wife. It should be translated then “I do not permit a wife to teach or to exercise authority over a husband.”

    I am confused why people don’t talk about this. Do others not study the greek meaning behind the translation of the bible or do they not care? Ever since I heard the debate over women being in ministry I researched this verse because it seemed out of character from what people were saying. Please respond and let me know what I don’t!!

  36. Thayne Pelletier April 26, 2007 at 11:56 PM #

    Hi Bob,
    You stated that besides Miriam leading the women in Exodus, there is no mention of women leading worship in the bible. Please refer to Psalm 68 and in particular, verse 11. Be sure to read the English Standard version, which is the most accurate word for word translation of the original Hebrew and Greek texts.

    Sometimes, the original meanings are lost in translation (compare this text to the NIV version). It is sad that women don’t realize their worth in God’s eyes and that He has a purpose for women to glorify Him.

    If God did not approve of women as worship leaders, then there would be no such anointed ministries as those of Darlene Z. from Hillsong Australia. She would be moving in her own strength and not in the strength of God.

  37. Matthew Westerholm May 4, 2007 at 12:12 PM #


    I really appreciate you pointing us to the scriptures.

    I wonder, however, if Psalm 68:11 is describing what we would recognize as worship leading. Verse 12 finishes the sentence with “The kings of the armies—they flee, they flee!” It then proceeds to describe these same women dividing the spoils of war. Could you clarify how you see this as example of women leading worship?

    You wrote . . . He has a purpose for women to glorify Him. Amen! God does desire for women to glorify Him. To be clear, however, “The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.” (WSC)

    We should use this same basis to discern the anointing of other ministries (as well our own!) as well.

  38. kathy October 25, 2007 at 12:41 PM #

    This is such a difficult topic. As a woman who has participated in the worship ministry for 35 years in a key way, I have watched the evolution of this discussion. I deeply understand that each side of the discussion desires to be honoring to God. Understanding this issue is difficult because we were not there in those early church years – to see firsthand how the church worked in regard to the use of women in leadership. We have snippets of information that we can try to glean from – but we cannot see the whole picture. We have seen women who were prophetic and used their gifts. We have seen the early church call deaconesses. Yet, in some church situations, women had to be reprimanded for their possible abuse of their gifting. Does this apply to all women today – or did it apply only to one church – the church that was abusing our liberty in Christ? These are honest questions to ask – for all of us.

    After struggling through this issue myself, I feel comfortable with a woman leading and teaching – if and only if those roles are her God-given gifts. Gifting is easily recognized.

    After going to African last year and seeing African churches up front and personal – and the defection of men from the church – I understand even more on this issue. Women have had to take on the task of leadership because men typically aren’t up to the task in many third world situations. And God has blessed these churches abundantly. This taught me that perhaps we see our own personal issues here in America with clouded lenses.

    So – what is the answer? I don’t want to be the one to answer it. This has to be a heavy hearted search for each individual, on their knees before God, seeking with all humility the answer. But the conversation needs to continue – so that God can be glorified – through all his people – so we do not become guilty of putting limits on his love and mercy.

    Just my few humble thoughts…..

  39. Leigh October 31, 2007 at 1:41 PM #

    This question can not be answered in 1 post. I think the question answered no is fostering an attitude of 1st class and 2nd class believers and creates pride. God spoke out of a donkey’s mouth before. I believe men are equally susceptible to propagating spiritual errors as women. There was a man in my church leading prayer over the communion and made mention of transubstantiation in a Baptist church! I’m not trying to point fingers but wouldn’t the truth even spoken by a child be more appropriate. I love all believers and desire fullness and healing to take place on this gender issue.

    The desire with which believing women are compelled to share the gospel and truth with other believers and unbelievers has to come from somewhere. Either it is from God or from the devil. Because it would be obedience if the desire was carried out by God’s commandments or temptation and sin if the desire was carried out against God and His Word. Does the devil want the truth and the gospel to be proclaimed? Surely this would be a kingdom divided against itself (Matt 12:25). Jesus commanded all believers to go and make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:19-20).

    When eve was created God did not ordain man to rule over her. Rather they were to rule together over the earth (Gen 1:28). They were both in a right standing relationship with God. The bible says when sin entered the world women were put in a fallen bondage (that men would rule over her (Gen 3:16)) because of eve’s decision to sin. Jesus came to put every one who would accept Him back in right standing with God and deliver believers from all curse and bondage that was ever put upon us. We get this freedom not because we die, but because He died and rose again. There is no 1st and 2nd class believers and there will not be in heaven (Gal 3:28).

    Why did Jesus first appear to women after His resurrection (John 20, Matt 28)? Was she not the first one that “preached with authority” the glorious truth of the risen Lord; that she had seen Jesus and even went on by Jesus’ instructions to tell men this? “Go instead to my brothers and tell them” This topic cannot be taken lightly or shoved under the rug of tradition. We are talking about a persons (and approximately half of all believers) calling on their life. Luke 10:2 “He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

  40. Bob Kauflin October 31, 2007 at 3:30 PM #

    Kathy, Leigh, and others,

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I agree with Leigh when she says, “This question cannot be answered in one post.” At least not in a way that everyone will understand what you’re attempting to say.

    I think one of the primary reasons confusion exists in this area is because we fail to separate role from value. God honors women as well as men. We are, male and female, made in the image of God. That doesn’t mean that whatever a man can do a woman should do, or vice versa. It also doesn’t mean that any man or woman should do whatever they’re ABLE to do. There is an order in the Trinity between Father, Son, and Spirit that is reflected in countless ways in creation. One of the primary ways happens to be the relationship between men and women. This is lived out most evidently in the relationship between a husband and wife, but also is reflected in the church.

    However, in light of the need and God’s command, no Christian woman should ever feel as though she lacks an opportunity for ministry in the church or in the world. Also, as Kathy mentioned, there are times when men aren’t around to lead. In those situations women should humbly fill the gap until such men are raised up. But God’s heart is to see both men and women functioning in their God-given roles to demonstrate the beauty of His plan to a confused and sinful world.

    If you’re interested in reading more, please check out the resources at the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood site.

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