I thank God for the voices that help us sort through the confusion about gender that exists not only in our culture, but in our churches and homes. Confusion that results in a redefining of marriage and the family, splits in major denominations, and unisex bathrooms at universities, among other things.
The world has seen too few examples of men and women exercising their complementary gifts and roles, together bringing glory to the triune God who made us in his image. Why mention this on a blog designed for those who lead worship? Because as we embrace God’s ordained order for our lives we bring glory to our Creator and acknowledge the wisdom of his design, both individually and together as men and women.
One of the clearest biblical voices on gender today is the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Their mission is “to help believers and local churches benefit from glorious biblical truths about God’s design of men and women.” A concise statement of their core convictions is found in the Danvers Statement. Here are some excerpts:
Both Adam and Eve were created in God’s image, equal before God as persons and distinct in their manhood and womanhood (Gen 1:26-27, Gen. 2:18).
Distinctions in masculine and feminine roles are ordained by God as part of the created order, and should find an echo in every human heart (Gen 2:18, 21-24; 1 Cor 11:7-9; 1 Tim 2:12-14).
In both men and women a heartfelt sense of call to ministry should never be used to set aside Biblical criteria for particular ministries (1 Tim 2:11-15, 3:1-13; Tit 1:5-9). Rather, Biblical teaching should remain the authority for testing our subjective discernment of God’s will.
With half the world’s population outside the reach of indigenous evangelism; with countless other lost people in those societies that have heard the gospel; with the stresses and miseries of sickness, malnutrition, homelessness, illiteracy, ignorance, aging, addiction, crime, incarceration, neuroses, and loneliness, no man or woman who feels a passion from God to make His grace known in word and deed need ever live without a fulfilling ministry for the glory of Christ and the good of this fallen world (1 Cor 12:7-21).
We are convinced that a denial or neglect of these principles will lead to increasingly destructive consequences in our families, our churches, and the culture at large.
CBMW has recently updated their website and made it more helpful and much easier to navigate. They offer Recommended Resources, a Gender Blog, Conferences, Audio Messages, and Recommended Products. More specifically, David Prince writes on Family Worship, Randy Stinson and Christopher Cowan give Seven Reasons Why We Cannot Call God “Mother,” and John Piper and Wayne Grudem offer answers to sixteen key questions about biblical masculinity and femininity.
If you’re unclear on how men and women can fulfill their God-given roles for his glory, if you want to sharpen your biblical convictions in this area, or if you’re confused about your own gender, I can’t recommend the CBMW ministry and website highly enough.
We recently did our I am Tim series and I drew the straw for I do not permit a woman to teach a man. To be fair, I read the best evidence of both sides and still ended with the position (as does Alistair Beg) that the normative, doctrinal and directional leader for the church should be male. I walked onto stage with a bullet proof vest on and simply read the passage. There was laughter which lessened the tension. Praise be to God!
The most valuable piece I found were on the site you mention (loving both Grudhem’s and Piper’s stuff as well) was Kostenberger’s Women in the Pauline Mission pdf. The best NT analysis I have seen of both Paul’s doctrine and praxis.
(side note: When we work in some of our missional contexts, we have to weigh the “conflicting commands” to not let a new believer teach. So we have to really reflect if we have only a mature woman believer and brand new male believers. Obviously, we would try to grow the males as quickly as possible to a point of maturity. Just and interesting tension point.)
I am greatful for the work of the CBMW and highly respect SGM’s commitment to apply these scriptural truths in the life of the Church. I am a young pastor and want to apply complementarity in the function of the worship service. My question, in that regard, is this: is it appropriate for a woman to lead worship in the Church? By leading I am assuming two things: 1. Her voice is the primary voice keeping the congregation on pitch and with the tempo, etc… and 2. She ultimately determines how the music is played and what happens between songs, repeats, etc…
My motivation in asking this question is I have been in this situation. When we started as a church plant we had little talent and gifting in the area of music, but we had a woman who played the piano and sang well. She pretty much led our worship services, but being convicted about manhood and womanhood I didn’t know what to do other than stand there next to her and taking over where I felt appropriate. Would this be being over-reactive or micromanaging? Sometimes I felt like I was worried about nothing, and other times I felt that there could be confusion over roles in the church.
Thanks for your question. I attempted an answer in an earlier post. You can find the post and comments here.
To address the specific situation you brought up…Because of the confusion about gender that exists in our culture and in our churches, I think it’s always wise and biblical to have a man who is obviously leading the gatherings of the church. That’s not to say that some women couldn’t do a better job at times. But leadership isn’t simply a matter of gifting, but of obedience. We’re committed to God’s design for order. If women step in to lead, men rarely find reason to grow in their God-given responsibilities.
You said that you stood beside the woman leading the congregation and “took over” where you felt appropriate. This might just be semantics, but maybe not. I wouldn’t use that phrase. My goal is to serve others by leading, teaching, and pastoring. It’s totally appropriate to have a woman lead the musicians while you lead the congregation in the other ways I just mentioned. But rather than viewing it as “trading off,” I’d see it as two different kinds of leadership.
Let me know if that helps.
Thanks for the helpful comments and personal illustration. Yep,a complementarian view isn’t exactly popular these days.
If others are interested in Kostenberger’s article on Women in the Pauline Mission, they can view it by clicking here.
Thank you for your response, it is helpful as I struggled with whether or not I was overdoing it. I agree that our cultural confusion requires visible and felt male leadership.
Thank you for your thoughts.
Bob, I first have to admit that I only skimmed the “Family Worship” article. As I skimmed, however, I got the sense that the article was directed at Fathers without giving a sense of the complementary roles you mention.
My home church has barred women from reading scripture in worship services and some families have pulled their children from Sunday school because women were teaching the children.
All that to say…there doesn’t seem to be much complement there…how would you nuance the discussion on how men and women’s roles are “complementary” within the church context?
This doesn’t belong here…but i didn’t know where else to put it…I was wondering if you could look at the comments left on Justin Taylor’s blog regarding John MacArthur
If you have time, could you either comment on here via blog on demeanor in worship or direct me to something you might have already written on the subject? (that is, demeanor of individuals in the congregation, not the demeanor of the worship leader/band) If you have time for neither, that’s fine, too.
I’m very thankful for your music. At the DG conference this weekend, they played several Sovereign Grace songs and they were excellent. So…I thank God for everyone at Sovereign Grace Music.