Monday, August 07, 2006

Heart's Desire

About three months ago our new pastor told me that women are supposed to remain silent in worship services. He has told me I'm making up something out of God's will 'cuz I just want it to be so... Since I had been leading worship at our church for the last six months or so, this had a huge impact on me and my service in our church... I've been leading worship or assisting in leading worship for a LONG time...

When I was 17 I experienced a call into ministry and during college got be part of a Baptist Student Union (now called Baptist Campus Ministries) I was asked to lead worship during my third year at UAF and during that year I helped plan and sang while a friend played the piano. During the next year I planned by myself, worked with a pianist, and led the worship at our Solid Rock Monday night meetings. ( My pastor says this is perfectly fine because it wasn't part of a church) I was also part of a drama team that had been initially created to help out several churches in the area who were without a pastor. We would come in a do a complete service, and by the third year of a our inception we were leading some music and also doing a drama program...

Which is also pretty much what I did in seminary- I was part of a drama team called "The Company" that got to travel all over and do a lot of different kinds of things: either complete service presentations or bits and pieces in your typical worship service. We also got to be part of youth and kids' camps, or go into schools and do scripts, we led drama workshops... a lot of wonderful cool things- I've always felt that what we did was "leading worship", even though it wasn't the traditional sing two choruses and a hymn type worship.

After graduating from seminary I got called to serve as a worship minister in a church start which failed, ended up marrying a guy who had also been called to lead worship, and then got the chance to serve in a really great church with my husband for two years. It was a small blended (we would sing praise songs, a hymn and use scripture readings, responsive readings and drama scripts) SBC church in the Seattle area. I got to serve as the youth director for part of our time there and we really enjoyed the church. The only hard part was that my teaching job was at the other end of Seattle so we lived pretty far from the church... Jake and I would trade off leading worship, which our congregation responded very well to... The previous worship minister at the church had been a woman. We left that congregation so that Jake could pursue an education to eventually become a full time worship minister...

We joined a church knowing that we would not have ministry jobs, but that we would be able to serve in the congregation, while Jake focused on school... We've been deeply plugged into this congregation. I was employed as the Director of Children's Activities for a little over a year, directed the children's choir, sang on the worship team, worked with the youth, directed a couple of drama pieces with the youth. Jake mostly did school, but was also employed as the janitor for over a year, and about the time our second daughter was born was hired as the church secretary. We also substituted for the worship minister whenever he had to be out of town. In about September of 2005 the worship minister asked if we'd take over the evening services because his job situation was changing. So, we've been leading the evening services for the last 7 or 8 months... Jake and I have been trading off leading the services. We got a new pastor in about March... And after about a month he met with us and told me that I should not be leading, that I should not be speaking and that I was "stealing" from my husband. (which my husband found offensive) He told me that I just want it to be okay with God, and that leading worship is completely out of God's will for my life.

I have been struggling with what that means for me and how to deal with the emotional mess of it all. I've worked with at least 4 pastors now- in the southern baptist community, no less. None of them have had a problem with me leading. This has really come as a shock. I've been shaken badly in my understanding of God's call on my life. I have NEVER questioned whether it was appropriate for me to lead worhsip. I grew up in a southern baptist church with a woman directing the music. Attended two other SBC churches with women leading the music. When I was called to ministry this was the big thing God has continued to lay on my heart.

I am deeply burdened over the area of worship in the church... Boy, that sounds so stupid and churchy- this makes me weep and ache in a way I can't explain except to say that it's a big deal to God and He's made it a big deal to me- The average church member will never have a deeply personal worship experience in their entire life... Or maybe they will have one. My heart longs for the average church member to experience true life-changing worship... I long for Christians to see their Father in a new way, to understand how amazing and powerful and holy and awesome and loving and PERSONAL their God is. Why did God give me this burden? Why on earth did he put this longing and aching in my heart and then put that heart in a woman if I'm not to DO something about it? I have seen my God in the temple. I have beheld His glory. I have been changed- I have been able to experience true worship- In spirit and truth... My heart's desire is to sculpt worship services in such a way that people come face to face with Jesus and are changed, that they see Him high and lifted up and are drawn to Him... Not just people who don't know Him, but those who have become "comfortable" with church. This gets me excited, this gets me almost incomprehensible with the importance of it, this gets me going off and reading and researching and listening to music I HATE and finding music I LOVE, and digging through old trash scripts that I've saved from ten years ago. That someone would would get Jesus not just in their head but in their heart, too.

God, what are you doing? I know that you are reminding me of what You called me to do... I know that You don't need me to do anything- that I'm just blessed by You to get to participate in Your work... God what are You doing? Why on earth did You place this in my heart if You didn't want me to do something about it? And what did you want me to do with it? Be silent and pray? Why has this man been placed in control of the church? He is so interested in remaining true to Your word and so sure that I'm not... Am I remaining true to Your purpose in my life? Is this something I'm coming up with on my own? "Cuz i don't want to be outside of Your plan for my life. I really don't want to be somewhere You aren't... God, I'm so confused... the Pastor is correct- there are two passages (1 Corinthians and 1Timothy) that state women should remain silent and have no authority over men. I know I don't have the authority to question You... I'm just really confused right now. And I can't stand losing a church over something that might turn out to be my little made up life plan. I really only want Your plan. What's Your plan?

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