There have been well-written posts recently by people who love God and seek to obey the bible — and I’m about to disagree with them. But I may be wrong (it would NOT be the first time). And they may be wrong.
So, here’s my position:
- The Bible right. It “is to be believed, as God’s instruction, in all that it affirms: obeyed, as God’s command, in all that it requires; embraced, as God’s pledge, in all that it promises.” I believe in the plenary, verbal inspiration of Scripture.
- The Bible reserves the role of “elder” for men. Theologically, I am a Complementarian.
- The New Testament uses the terms “bishop”, “elder” and “pastor” interchangeably.
- Qualified women should serve in any leadership position that is not forbidden in the Scriptures. (See that argument here.)
- A “worship leader” is NOT an office of the church in the New Testament.
- “Worship Songs” are actually either “sung prayers” or “sung exhortations.” (Argued here, and here.)
- Every “worship leader” should serve under the elders generally, and the teaching elder specifically. These elders should take a very active role in overseeing the lyrics and doctrine that will be reflected in the worship gatherings.
- Women are allowed to pray and prophesy in public, under the leadership of their elders.
- Therefore, qualified women can (and should) serve as worship leaders in a local church.
So, I’d lovingly disagree with The Resurgence when they write:
While the task of leading people in worship is outlined in varying ways, the implementation and function of the modern “worship leader” isn’t found anywhere in the New Testament. What we do find is that pastors or elders are mandated with the job of leading the people in worship. For example, 2 Chronicles 7:6 describes priests leading David and Israel in worship. This tells us that the primary function of a worship leader should be pastor, not just artist.
In broad terms, I resonate deeply with this concern. Certainly there is an over-emphasis on musical excellence in today’s “worship culture,” with much theological confusion as a part of that.
However, to limit the worship leader role to ELDERS, and therefore MEN, is unwarranted. And appealing to Old Testament priests as patterns for today is confusing the issue. It mitigates the work of Jesus Christ who has made all believers into a royal priesthood.
Christ is the only one who has offered perfect worship to the Father, and we draw near to God through Christ’s finished work. Not through the musical qualifications of the person upfront. Not the artistic/cultural-relativity qualifications of the person up front. And not through the theological knowledge qualifications of the person upfront.
Yes, Pastor/Elders are to lead the church. How that plays out can look like a lot of different things. Having a female worship leader should never be considered “unbiblical,” even from a complementarian viewpoint.