I am wondering if any of you out there have a spouse where you serve together on the worship team.  Do share the leadership equally, or does one hold more authority than the other?  What advice do you have for people who might be in a similar situation?


Here's a little more detail:

My wife and I are both musicians.  Currently, I hold the title of worship leader and she plays in the band.  I am wondering what challenges there might be if we were to change that to be where she has equal authority as worship leader, picking songs, deciding how the arrangements will sound, etc.  She is very talented and bright but we do have slightly different artistic taste at times, and she feels really insecure when I don't see it her way. If I was better at making her feel validated, she wouldn't feel so insecure, but I am still rough around the edges.  It's not that she wants the recognition, she just wants to feel validated.  We haven't discussed this with the church leadership yet.  I am not sure if they will have a problem with that or not.  I don't think they will.  I am curious to know what advice other worship leader couples might have for us.

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My husband and I both serve on our worship team, and are under the authority of our worship leader. We have two children, well, one is 16 so young adult would better describe her (I am sure she would agree!), and one is 9. As parents, we must find a balance between serving/attending practices once a week/going to church an hour before the two services on Sundays, and all the things that are happening in our girls' lives, so there are inevitably times when one of us, or both of us, cannot go to practices. Our leader understands this, as she has 3 children herself, so it all works out well. Most of the others on the team also have families and are similarly challenged! We feel it is so vital to put family first, that this is our season for doing that, and that our little ones are not little for long! The Lord understands all of this, and honours it.
It all depends on your relationship. You have to be able to separate your relationship from the responsibility of being worship leaders. My wife plays synth on my worship team as well as providing vocals. We are not co-leaders. Even so, we both have to check ourselves and our treatment of each other. We all have a tendency to be less 'cooth' (for lack of a better word) with our significant others. Who do we dump on when things are going badly? Spouses. Not that it's right, in fact, it's destructive. Which is why we have to be careful. Even so, I enjoy making music with my wife and I enjoy having her on the worship team.

If you feel confident that you could co-lead with your wife, then God speed. However I would caution you to put your relationship before the opportunity to co-leader. If this is your idea and not hers, I would find a different way to allow her to feel validated.
Choice of songs and musical direction is not a question of authority, but of freedom. The person who heads up a worship team has authority to oversee things and is responsible to ensure that they are operated in a Godly fashion. However that should not extend to inflicting personal taste on everyone else or micro-managing their choices of song. Also having someone allow a worship leader to use a particular set of songs and arrangements doesn't validate either them or their choices. I would be especially careful when pulling the authority card in a marriage situation: partnership should always be the goal, with willing submission to each other.

You talk as though she would like input into the way worship is lead, and possibly to lead it herself. It would likely help her if you gave her both freedom and open-handed guidance in song choices and styles. It will always be frustrating if the leader requires that all things are only done in their style, using the songs they approve, particularly if any of the other people they work with have some ability and intelligence.

An issue I've come across a number of times in worship teams is the whole area of authority and control. People want to tightly control what goes on, how things are played, who does what, when, how and where. If you give people freedom, both to follow God and to express themselves in the way that is natural for them, then you'll end up with a much richer, more diverse and inspiring worship team than if you all wear a uniform, both inside and out. Obviously this has to be done in good order, but where hearts and purpose are right then freedom will always build people up and allow them to grow.

I don't have direct experience of being part of a worship team with my wife because she's mostly not musical. However we have lead housegroups in various forms together for many years, and can understand some of the 'authority' tensions. I also headed up a diverse worship team, with worship leaders whose tastes covered the range from rap/dance styles through to hymns.
While I never pull the authority card outrightly "Well, I'm in charge so it's my way or the highway", there are times when I insist it has to be a certain way and the others go along with it. (And I most certainly don't dare do that in our relationship!) While I REALLY want to be a leader that guides, instructs, and allows freedom to develop, when we only have so many minutes to rehearse, we don't have time to be creating arrangements by group consensus. Would it be a good idea to have individual arrangements be "owned" by each worship leader, and they are responsible for shaping an arrangement for that song?

Part of her feelings are also stemming from when we first were approached, the pastor asked us both to be worship leaders, but the next day when he announced it to the church, he said that I was going to be the worship leader, and I don't think he mentioned my wife. I know there's a certain aspect of wives being a part of their husband's ministry by default as a support role, but music requires a lot more specialized skill and my wife is just as capable of being a worship leader as I am.
Sounds like the whole situation is a little messed up. As a spouse of a pastor I can tell you that the whole "two for the price of one" deal needs to be nipped in the bud. It's not fair to the pastor nor the spouse. Yes, I volunteer in my wife's ministry and she in mine, but we've made it very clear with our actions that it is not assumed. I would say that if the pastor asked the both of you, then told the congregation that it was only you, you need to rectify the situation.

Unless the reason he did so is because your wife is a woman. Then you should find a new church.
Hey PG - how big is your band (or is it just the 2 of you)? If it's not large and you're both reasonably competent musicians then you shouldn't really be needing arrangements, so much as just an idea of tempo, introduction and finish (and even the finish is un-necessary really). Much more a case of working things out by musical consensus, playing it together how you both feel in a way that fits.

You certainly can have arrangements specific to different leaders, and that can help keep a song fresh (and can also give rise to "Oh no, not THAT version again") although beware timing differences - 'strength will rise' is a prime example of a song where 2 sets of timings are a BAD idea. A lot of songs get rearranged on the fly according to circumstances/mood anyway, and that's much better than always doing them like you're a karaoke box. In the present church we have a worship leader than needs all the songs a whole tone+ flat from the key you'd normally use, and normally played slower too.

Sorry if I came over a little 'tough' in the first post - it's sometimes hard to tell what people mean without tone of voice queues. It would be good to clarify exactly what your pastor did mean - sometimes people just make mistakes speaking in public, even when they're quite experienced, and he might have not realised he didn't say what he meant.

Daniel - not everyone is happy with women in church government/leadership positions (and are likely convinced their theology is as sound as I hope you think your is). While a discussion might be interesting, making comments like this isn't especially helpful.
Sorry for the delayed response - there are about 6 instrumentalists and 5 singers (3 singers also play instruments, so it's more like 8 total people). I admit I am somewhat of a control freak at times; I think it is because when we started out, my role was more of a teacher to the band (minus my wife) than a leader. The team has developed and musically matured, but when we're not careful the music lacks excitement; it's like we're just going through the motions.

Here's what it comes down to: I am not a natural leader, but I know I have the ability to be one if I can just learn how. There are others who are natural born leaders in the group who don't have the musical skills as much (except for my wife, who does have the musical skills as well). While I don't want it to be this way, I can't get away from the fact that I don't know how to allow people to have the freedom to lead without feeling like my position is threatened. So I cling tightly to what I do have.

(And I didn't have to go to therapy for this realization either!)
"I don't know how to allow people to have the freedom to lead without feeling like my position is threatened. So I cling tightly to what I do have."

BLUF: If you are clinging to a position, you are bound to lose it. Suggest you let go - leadership is less about a position and more about who and what kind of person you are.

Two books you should read -- The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make, by Hans Finzel, and The Mentor Leader, by Tony Dungy. Here are a couple of quotes...

1st rule of leadership - "It's not about you." - Tony Dungy

Why leaders fail to delegate - #7 "Fear of losing value in the organization. We all want to feel needed, and one of the problems of good delegation is that there may not be as much for you to do. And for many people, that translates into loss of value. 'If I don't do it, I am not needed!' It's simply not true. The value of the leader is to coach and lead, not to micromanage." - Hans Finzel

"If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all." - Jesus, Mark 9:35

"Jesus gave us the ultimate demonstration of servant leadership: he washed his disciples' feet! The first thing I always notice in this scene is Jesus' all-encompassing power and authority. The foundation for his servanthood was a true realization of his power, position, and prestige. He was God himself in the flesh and had every right to be a dictator... Having this foundation, Jesus demonstrated servant leadership by taking off his robe, picking up a towel, and washing his disciples' feet... The explanation of Jesus' servant leadership comes at the end of the story, when he says, 'I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you...Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them'." - Hans Finzel
On the contrary. My advice is helpful if they're in a situation where his wife is called to a leadership position, but the church won't allow it. I'm not making judgments on anyone's particular church polity, merely responding to the posts that pianoguy wrote. If his wife is being held back from fulfilling God's calling for her, they need to rectify the situation, whether that means clearing up a miscommunication or more seriously, seeking somewhere else to serve.

I would be interested to find out which it is. Pianoguy, could you help us out here?

Regardless of whether women are "allowed" to be in leadership at a particular church, it seems they are almost always put in charge of most things. ;)
Officially, the church holds to the belief that women should not be teaching or preaching in mixed company, but leading worship is fine among other ways to serve. The church leadership values developing and grooming both men and women as leaders, whether it be at home, work, or at church, but there is a particular focus on emphasizing that men do not have to lose their masculinity to serve or be involved in church. There is definitely not any macho overtone, however. I have not spoken to the pastor about it yet because she doesn't want him to think she is looking for the title/recognition. He is a good friend to both of us and I don't think he meant it in a way to downplay her abilities because of her gender; he thinks highly of her and has been wanting her to be up front playing piano long before she ever did (health reasons prohibited her from joining sooner).
One person has to be in charge overall. It's a hard fact, but generally solves things. Trying to parse out arrangements and have "sub leaders" for that is kind of artificial. A more natural division is between vocalists and players for instance. But even then, there needs to be one leader. But being the leader doesn't mean you have the most talent or skill at the role - only that you're the manager. Like they say, those who can't play coach. I'm not sure if you or your wife need to "lead", so I'm not commenting on that, only the reality of leadership.
My husband and I are jointly called to worship ministry. We were called to our area with a specific job to do, and people across the churches in our area and nation know us as a team, and that includes any church which we have been members of and served in the worship team for. We have, because we are worship leaders by calling and gifting, always operated in some sense together. We have co-led the worship teams of two churches, but have usually been joined in that role by another worship leader because of the amount of travelling away we have had to do.

However, in the day to day business of actually choosing songs and leading the congregation, we have had to learn our way into it. We are both strong characters with different giftings and preferences for actually leading. Once we recognised that I'm good with leading congregations into worship, while my husband is better at the more prophetic, intimate worship side of things, it made things a lot easier, because then it was a case of playing to our strengths. We've learned to listen together to the Holy Spirit during a worship time, and sometimes have found that we can't agree on what comes next. However, we have come to recognise that that usually means we are both wrong and it's time to stop and listen to God for what comes next. This strategy works very well for us.

In preparing a worship set, I usually prepare the song list, but leave it open to my husband to put in other songs, or talk me out of something he doesn't think is suitable which also works well. We also work on new songs, and practice together outside of church worship team practices, so that we can learn together where God is taking us as a team.

Having said all that, there have been many instances where I have felt I should join the worship team before my husband has, and that applies to the church we are currently in. I have been leading worship there for almost a year, and my husband has only just got involved. He usually plays keyboards to support me in leading worship, because our present church is less open to spontaneous or flowing worship. We are both free to do other things in other settings, and don't hold rigidly to having to always work together.

The key is freedom and respect, and allowing each other to play to our strengths, and also being prepared to give the other person room to grow, and to mess up sometimes without condemnation. Co-leading can be a real blessing if you do it with grace and love for each other!
Yvonne Mason


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