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by Mark Driscoll
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Mon May 20, 2013
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Sun May 19, 2013
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A Conversation with Worship Pastors on Complementarian Relationships
Donald Zimmerman (Living Stones – Reno, NV)
Joel Brown (Mars Hill – Seattle, WA)
Matt Stevens (Vintage 21 – Raleigh, NC)
Josh Dix (The Journey – St. Louis, MO)
Michael Bleecker (The Village – Dallas, TX)
Aaron Spiro (SOMA – Tacoma, WA)
This is the second installment of a four-part interview with several A29 worship pastors on our 4 distinctives and how they play out in different worship contexts: west coast & east coast, suburban & urban.
Acts 29 believes that God has made men and women equal but with different roles in the home and church, a position known as “complementarian relationships”. How does your understanding of biblical female roles play out in worship leading?
It really depends on what the role of the worship leader is in your context. At Mars Hill, our band leaders aren’t teaching per se. We have women deacons as well as women who lead in song, pray in services, read Scripture in services, but we don’t ask them to teach in services. We actually have more female song leaders now than ever before.
Each band has a male in the shepherding role. We never want to put a woman in a position where they’re forced to be in spiritual authority over men in a band context. Walking the balance has been a challenge for us but we’re learning.
We have a woman worship leader and it opens a whole new element that's so important to the church. She leads and it’s in submission to the elders. We’ve seen that it's key for them to be involved in the process of helping women who are involved in leadership grow in their gifts.
At the Village they can lead on stage, but we’ll have a male leader co-leading with them. The exceptions would be women’s Bible studies or women’s conferences.
As an example, Matt Chandler’s wife Lauren can lead songs, but someone like you is up there with her?
Yes, exactly. While a little more complex when applied to worship, we’re trying to be faithful to 1 Corinthians 14.
My prayer is that I would be a conduit used to equip our saints for the work of ministry as they hear scripture-saturated sermons, songs & prayers.
Women don’t preach at The Journey, but we have women do scripture readings, lead songs, and play instruments in worship services. They really bring a lot to the gathering. We also have a couple of really sharp female leaders that help in the liturgy, song planning, and arrangements.
Many opponents to this teaching seem to soften when they see complementarian roles lived out well, devoid of the abuses they may have experienced or heard about. Have you guys received much push-back from the community in regards to gender roles?
Right out of the gate in our membership class they’re learning about where we stand on gender roles. I mean, almost every weekend you can hear Matt Chandler say something about it. There really hasn’t been an issue.
No, Vintage 21 has welcomed gifted and godly women leading songs in worship.
If our content is centered on fully representing the triune God, it won't be too feminine or too masculine.
How do you guys avoid over-masculinizing or over-feminizing the corporate gathering?
We need to do a better job at valuing the masculine and feminine attributes of God. Both males and females are made in His image. At Soma, we want to have elders who are overseeing and leading, but also create space for women to exercise their gifts.
The balance is in knowing the hearts of both the men and women God has called us to pastor, while pleading that God would move powerfully in and through them as we lead them each week. I counsel men often - so I know the battles, pitfalls and victories they have. I see them throughout the crowd and I ask God what He would have me say over the course of that hour we have together. I have female leaders that pour into the women in my ministry, so I'm able to do the same with the women.
My prayer is that I would be a conduit used to equip our saints for the work of ministry as they hear scripture-saturated sermons, songs and prayers.
Over-masculinizing the corporate gathering isn’t a huge problem because most dudes have trouble engaging in the effeminate, "Jesus is my boyfriend" pop worship tunes played in a lot of Christian stereos and churches today.
It matters how you define what is masculine and what is feminine. Unfortunately, when most people say “feminine”, they mean hyper-emotional songs with bad melodies and bad theology. When most people say “masculine”, they mean hyper-intellectual but sterile rock tunes with good theology. Responding to one over-emphasis with another over-reaction is not the way to do it. The question we are really talking about is gospel-centered contextualization.
With evangelical Christianity being 60% female, many men are turned off by what is generally a very feminized, gospel-less, cross-less Christianity. We don’t want songs that strictly focus on a vague emotional view of God, but instead, songs that affect us deeply and emotionally in gospel truth.
Sometimes this comes down to the musical style as well. Sweeping synths, chorused Rhodes pads, and rain sticks won’t likely connect with most men.
We have had time periods where no visible or audible example of a female worshipper was on stage. This led to a lot of alienated ladies at our gatherings. For those who have musical backgrounds, singing harmonies with a male leader is doable, but for the majority of the women in the room, it is helpful to have songs in appropriate keys and also a female presence to be led by.
The western church has feminized worship along with the person of Jesus. It's important to examine what is being said about God (content) before we look at how it's being said (contextualization). If our content is centered on fully representing the triune God, it won't be too feminine or too masculine.
Rebelling wholeheartedly against anything resembling modern worship in an effort to attract the alpha males to our church is not the answer, as we'll inevitably isolate women and ultimately distort the full picture of a triune God.
Read Part 1 if you missed it, and up next is Missional Churches