(This post will make more sense if you’ve read the first post in this series.)
Let’s start by talking about women’s ability to minister in our churches. We’re not going to talk about anything controversial, like a woman ministering as a pastor or an elder. We’re going to talk about music ministry.
I have been singing in church since I was 12 years old (not including the children’s choirs I loved from the time I was 5), and I’ve always been called a “backup singer.” Though I have had, with very few exceptions, more vocal (and in some cases general musical) training than the male “lead singer,” and though in many cases I have sung with equal participation (melody, volume, etc), I am always called a backup singer. MANY times, it is just assumed that I will take harmony because I am a woman and therefore backup. When the lead is out sick or vacationing, etc, I have seen, many times, a non-musician man called to fill in for him, rather than having had anyone ask me (or any of the other qualified female “back up singers”).
I must be clear: This has never bothered me. I have not even batted an eye lash. Being a backup singer is not “below me.” I am happy to serve where needed, and I always sing with joy. It’s only recently that I have even started to notice these symptoms. Even more recently have I identified it as a problem.
What man would attend a church, willing and able to sing and frequently doing so, with 10 years of professional vocal training (including a college degree in it), and be perpetually relegated to “backup singer”? Even in churches where I have frequently been asked to sing solos (or even direct choirs for special music), I am a backup singer on Sunday mornings. I have never once been asked to say anything, pray, or select a passage of Scripture to share as part of the main music team, even though I am openly willing to do whatever is needed to help people worship through a time of music. Is it really likely that a man who has regularly sung in worship services for nearly 20 years would be able to say the same thing?
I am coming to realize that if I keep going to churches that believe in dividing church roles by gender, I will likely never be able to serve in music ministries as anything other than a largely unnecessary ornamentation* in a music team (unnecessary meaning that if I’m not there, no one would have to replace me for the service to proceed as usual).
Am I OK with this? I have no aspirations to be a worship leader. So should this even bother me? Should only women who are called and gifted as worship leaders experience being necessary in music ministries?
I submit that all women who participate in a ministry should be able to participate fully, just as men do. Hopefully, each person who is ministering is doing so in the strength of the Spirit. Let’s trust Him to lead us all to what He wants for our churches.
*Don’t even get me started on the propensity of “sound guys” to lower the mics of the women singing so that they have no chance of even being heard, as if we are literally on the stage to decorate it.