Do you think that people going through a divorce should be allowed on a worship team?
That’s the question we were emailed recently and my heart went out to the person who had sent the email. I certainly don’t think there is a straight forward answer to this and my hunch was that our Musicademy community would have a lot more experience on the topic between them than I. So with that in mind I posted the question on our Facebook Page and sat amazed as loads of comments came flooding in. It’s not great reading the comments here out of context with “Likes” awarded to each, but I thought I’d post them for the benefit of those who don’t use Facebook (actually even if you don’t use it you can click through and read the comments – just not comment yourself)
Nick Sadler – a local decision…
Adrian Higgs – Yes. Next?
Susan Ruth Mueller – No.
Dave Jones – I’m guessing it would depend on the reason. If it was a accepted Biblical reason then why not? They could probably do with the help, support, fellowship and prayers of the team.
Cody Patterson – Musicademy Do you think God can use people that are struggling? Everyone has things going on in their life at all times, sometimes really bad sometimes life is easier. If the person on the team is trying to keep focused on Christ then yes of course. Divorce is wrong Biblically but that doesn’t mean that the person on the team initiated it, or even that they wanted it. People always make mistakes, if we took everyone off the team that made any mistake then we would have no team, not even a leader.
Jane Gould – Why not? If they want to , that is. Do you think they are not in terrible pain anyway?
Tim Ashburner – “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”
Jen Ryan – Depends on the reason. Sometimes our greatest worship comes when we are the most broken.
Linda VonKaenel Arnold – yes, especially if that person is the respondent and not the petitioner.
Sa Rah – I sure hope so! I am going through a divorce and I’m part of worship team, I lead worship every third week. I’m glad that God loves me and my worship no matter what I’m going through, he receives my broken heart and makes me whole!! xx
Jane Gould – Divorce is not wrong biblically actually. It is not God’s best; but you tell that to a wife who is being beaten – yes – Christians can be violent
Andy ‘Keys’ Seeley – Light the touch paper and stand back ….
Jane Gould – Sa Rah I am certain that your praise is fragrant to the Lord
Simon Akehurst – Who are any of us to judge?
Thomas Mecher – what cody and jane said! I think, you guys nailed it perfectly!
Nicky Herron – yes its for them to sort not anyone else to coment on.. no one knows what happend behind closed doors .
Susan Williams Parish – Of course. Why would we say no? The body of Christ is full of people who have had detours on their path, myself Included. The worship team is made up of that Body. Can we not worship God or lead others in worship when going through hardships? Praise You in This Storm.
Janet Evans – I agree with the comments Dave Jones put. I was glad of the loving support when I had to go thru it.
Musicademy – Thank you for these responses. We’re very interested to know what you think and also any stories of how your churches have handled this situation in the past.
Do you have experiences of churches coping well with divorce/divorced people (and supporting them) or the opposite?
Nicky Herron – think that the person invoved may not want to revel all .. but need the support from the people in the team . and carry on best they can without outing to a whole church and feeling autrasised
Cody Patterson – Yes it is, divorce is only accepted in the bible for abusive or cheating relationships.
Dave Dringenburg – This is the most absurd question I’ve ever read. Should we allow any person to lead worship if we think they’re sinners? Those saying no should take a long look in the mirror and put down their stones. Worry about the plank in your own eye before pointing out the splinter in someone else’s.
Sa Rah – My church is my family, they know my situation, they’ve loved me through my tears and pain, and helped turn my eyes on Jesus, & as I’ve worshiped God has given me his peace, only Jesus has got me through but if the church had turned against me then I would not have got through. Sometimes we are too quick to judge people, I’m thankful God loves me even with my flaws! xx
Stan Dudek – Yes
Musicademy – It’s a question we were asked. I’d always prefer to canvas the opinion of all of you rather than offering a single response of my own!
The wisdom of the crowd yields such a wealth of thought and reflection. Always love how you guys get involved in this conversations. We all learn so much from hearing what everyone else has to say.
Will Couchman – Absolutely. If people are struggling spiritually, then perhaps it is a season of time to not be leading people in worship. But to worship through divorce and suffering is a powerful thing, and I would love to be led by someone with that strength!
Chris Paisley – I think as they are responsible for leading worship then for a time yes they should be removed, what do we think about pastors who are going through divorce should they step down? You are given the opportunity to lead the Family of God in worship
Susan Williams – Parish Pastors are people, too. Let us support those who need it. Kum-ba-yah.
Michael Patchy F ogg Albin – Yes.
Ben Mizen – Yes
Matt Zipfel – Yes
Graham Yetton – it can be a difficult time, so you probably wouldn’t want to burden them with the responsibility of leading, even if they don’t think it is a burden, but things can change quickly. Would you make someone step down from a role on the leadership team if they were going through a divorce? As has been said getting a divorce is not sinful, what lead to it might be! But church is a place where sinners should be welcome, and welcomed.
David Good – If the person on the worship team had been involved in adultery then I would say that person needs to step down and allow the leadership to walk them through a process of restoration, both personally and in their marriage.
Emily Brake – One of the worship leaders in my team, amazing guy, totally sold out for Christ had the experience of his wife leaving him. She divorced him, not his choice. He served that whole time. Why wouldn’t he?!!!!! And now he has remarried and between him and his new wife has an amazing huge family and still serves… It was never a question for me in this situation…
Essex Christians – If they love the Lord there God with all there heart, mind and soul..YES why not….Its a personal relationship with God, if there is up for it, why not..A bit like taken the wine and bread, if you not worthy then don’t do it…
Dave Dringenburg – I don’t want to lay into the people saying no (I see some comments have been deleted), but there is a huge disconnect from scripture in saying ‘no’ to this. The Bible is full of sinners doing Gods work. Think about David: adulterer, murderer (Bathshebas husband), and yet we sing how many songs based on his Psalms? Jesus even quotes him while on the cross!!! If Jesus is wiling to spend time with sinners and even quote (quote!) adulterers, then I too am willing to love them as they are, and let them lead worship next to me, a sinner as well. I agree there are certain times in life where unrepentant hearts need to take a break from things, and decisions like that need to make on a case by case basis, but making sweeping comments of ‘no’ is ridiculous.
Anne Quinn – Cannot believe this question is even being asked, what happened to ‘ love your fellow man’
Rob Roberts I went through a divorce 10 yrs ago, at the time of my actual divorce proceedings (as petitioner) I had stepped completely away from the church where I had been leading the worship team. My church pastor, knowing all that I was going through, pressured me to continue leading. I was not supported beyond encouragement to ‘stick with the marriage’. Stepping away, in brokenness, was right for me though difficult to do. Please though don’t judge or condemn anyone going through anything like this. You have no idea the pain or turmoil, whether biblically right or not. I believe God’s answer is to love people, whatever their situation. Through love and service for all God’s community people flourish.
Joanne Matthews – Yes
Jan Knox – Why not???
Sa Rah – Thank you Dave Dringenburg I have just read Psalms 51 ;)) and Rob Roberts I completely agree xx
Tim Ashburner – God has a habit of using the lowest of the low in people to do great things; he chose prostitutes, beggars, lepers, tax collectors, and a woman that had seven husbands and was ‘living’ with another man. If we really think that God gives us the amazing release that his love is to us all and then stops us from sharing that love from the sate of humility that failure brings us then I dont think its our hearts that need examining.
CHURCH LEADERSHIP IS FULL OF SANCTIMONIOUS ATTITUDES AND SELF RIGHTEOUSNESS.
Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and sinners. Our leaders would do well to note the same!!!
Matt Howard – my eldership addressed this problem in our church not too long ago. It’s not that the person involved is a “sinner,” the take was that there is something very devastating happening in their life at the present moment. Not that this person would not be able to worship God, but it would be harder for them to lead in an appropriate manner. There was also discussion that, whatever the reason for divorce, it was evident that more time should have been spent on personal issues. THerefore the eldership asked me to have this person take a season off so that personal matters could be first and foremost taken care of,
Clifford Ross Jeffrey – It really does depend on the situation. If I beat my wife daily and the leadership knows of it should they let me lead worship? After all we are all sinners aren’t we?
There is so much more to the answer of this question then a straight yes or no.
Clifford Ross Jeffrey – Can we support the person and not what they did, or maybe it was what was done to them.
Paula Bower – I took myself off the worship team whilst going through my divorce as a) i didn’t want peoples’ speculation and possible judgement distracting them from concentrating on God and b) i needed to be ‘in the crowd’ to be ministered to, not doing the ministring at the time. As it was, i ended up leaving that church and am back being on a worship team – healed, forgiven and thankful.
Tim Nevell – It would be interesing to know what prompted the question…? There’s nothing to add to the answers!! (including the reasons why the right answer may sometimes be “no”)
So, should someone who has argued with his partner/brother, or kicked the cat be allowed to take part on a worship team? I don’t mean this flippantly. There are many things that could make us feel unworthy and rotten on a Sunday morning, and we can’t plan them out of our lives so easily. But grace is everything, when we have a will to let it in to these situations!
Graham Bastone – I would say that every effort is made by the person to have the marriage (which is a covenent) have the time and space and take time out from leading worship to concentrate on that issue for however long it takes. The covenant of marriage is far important than leading people into the throne room of God on a Sunday morning, some one else can take his or her place for a while. Covenant of marriage only happens ONCE (unless it one of the party dies) A leader of worship must have a clear mind to the leading of people Man to God, All worship teams should have a number 2 to step in at any given moment.
Richard J R Fletcher – This question unreasonably appears to promote divorce a greater sin than another.
If a church felt that a worship leader (member out the worship team) had compromised that leadership in anyway then possibly a request to step aside could be appropriate.
However it is unlikely that all the facts (for whatever reason) are known to the church family and to a point the church should not expect to know or “gossip” about a persons private life. The church should seek in all ways to support and understand all parties and not judge or pick sides.
Stephen Levi Anderson – As a worship Pastor I would ask those going thru the divorce if they thought they might need some time away from the ministry to tend to their personal/family needs. I would also prayerfully ask God the same question! …Another consideration is the health of the other people on the worship team that the couple is involved in… is the team healthy & strong enough to deal with the potential distraction and stress in its midst???!!!???? finally, I would likely consult my senior pastor or immediate overseeing pastor for their counsel! After praying thru these considerations I would make a decision as to the divorcing couples involvement on the worship team! Footnote… the reaction of the couple to my leadership & decision regarding their involvement might be a big indicator as to their current readiness to serve the church & the Lord!
Edward Mitchell – yes
Michael Thomas Willis – Yes and No. It depends on the reasons and their role in causing the divorce. A man or woman unfaithful to their spouse should not be on the team. The spouse who is the victim of that unfaithfulness or abuse can be on the team. The reason for the divorce must be in accordance with scripture. ie. Adultery. Abuse is a reason for separation.
Miguel Colon – Jesus said there is no divorce except for adultery .. So if there has been no adultery in His eyes there is no divorce. Should a person insist on going ahead anyway then they are rebelling against His will and then there is no place for that person in a worship team. If there is adultery then the there is no reason why the faithful partner should not be in the team. The offending partner should not, Marriage is a picture of Christ and the church so, we must be extra careful not to soil that picture by dealing with it in a frivolous manner.
Dave Dringenburg – Miguel, by extra careful are you saying divorce is a more serious sin? Because that’s what it’s sounding like…
Richard Carter – Don ‘t kill the wounded. Of course they should continue on the worship team!
Glenna Hendrickson – Not on the worship team, but encouraged to continue praising God through the trials! Once reconciled, then rejoining team is appropriate. During trials our minds get cloudy and our focus is blurred and not completely focused on The Lord. I have removed myself a few times from leading because I knew my heart was not in the right place. Being on the praise team is our opportunity to lead others into the Presence of God. If our minds and hearts aren’t in it, we should step down for a season.
Mitzi Barker – why do we treat divorce as a greater impediment to ministry than other tragedies? all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God; how much better if we are honest about it and reflect that amongst our leadership? that said, I do believe that we owe it to leaders to allow a person to temporarily step back from their post to handle (emotionally and otherwise) major life changes, such as death, birth, adoption, divorce, job loss/change, etc.
Mike Carter – I agree that if a persons heart and mind isnt in it they should concider taking a break. But are we judging them, and judging that their heart and minds arent init? How do we know if thats right? If I ,assume they are struggling then i should never be allowed to lead as i struggle with sin every week. I still play and sing in front of the church. In fact by doing so it helps me be a better me each week. I thought that the entire message of Jesus dying on the cross IS our message of reconciliation and that we are forgiven. Yes divorce can be a bad thing but its not the worst thing that a person goes through. And lI hope none of us turn our backs on those that go that route. Jesus said the greatest commandment was what? Shunning someone because they have issues? Or did he say the greatest commandment is Love?
Michael Thomas Willis – Can anyone tell where in the bible it says all sins are equal?
John D. Alger – Maybe Miguel, we should start a little more slowly. Excommunication first…then dismemberment…THEN ask them to consider a hiatus for a couple of weeks. But just take them off the worship team straight away? Seems a bit radical…a bit harsh…doesn’t it? Golly, you might hurt someone’s feelings and stuff.
Marty Abbott – At our church the Worship Leader started chasing after the new preacher. He enjoyed the attention and even though they were both married, they have both left their spouses and the church. After some of these comments I’m feeling that some of you would suggest our church should have looked the other way?!?! Yes, we all sin, we all struggle to live a life according to scripture. But, eventually we will be held accountable for our sin. Yes, we must love the sinner and hate the sin. After what we saw happen at our church I still feel that leading worship is in part done by leading by example.
Dave Dringenburg – Michael, can you tell us where the scale for severity of sin is? And where divorce fits on the scale?
Matt Stevenson – God’s love for us is unconditional. He is committed to us. We should be committed to our spouse in the same way. If a WT member initiates the divorce or is the cheater, absolutely they should be removed from the team.
Musicademy – It’s interesting to see that comments have been deleted. But maybe that is part of the beauty of a discussion like this. We read a question, have an immediate reaction to it but when later we go back and read others’ viewpoints we perhaps realise that the issue is more complex than we first thought.
Thank you all for your kind compassionate responses. I know from people that have messaged us privately about this (and the original questioner) that this has been a hugely helpful discussion. We very much welcome the diversity of opinion and it is good to see so many sharing their own stories. Whilst this issue remains for most a “local decision”, I’m sure many who are part of the decision making process will find these comments useful in that process.
The situations that could have lead to this question are many – and there are probably many very differing solutions to them. The discussion has been helpful in showing the many sides to the argument.
Again, thank you. And do continue to share your thoughts.
Cherise Cheney – Yes of course. As churches we should seek to include not exclude people
Michael Thomas Willis – How would one “judge a righteous judgment” if they judge all sins the same? Everyone sins and sins everyday even. Some why do we read only of one person Paul removed from the Church?
If a person causes a divorce(s) because they say slept with their father’s wife I think we should judge that a little harder.
Cathy Silmon – If it was me in the midst of divorce, the question I would ask myself is, ‘will I be ‘putting’ any of my grief and sense of loss into my worship leading and hence onto the congregation?’ If, in all integrity, I know I can put my pain aside and focus on loving and worshipping Jesus then I’d feel able to stay leading. I haven’t experienced divorce, but i have experienced great emotional pain and can say with accuracy that when I have put that aside to focus on leading worship, something in the sacrifice of my action has opened doors to an intimacy I’d not known before, which was then released during worship – I don’t understand the ‘spiritual mechanics’ of this, but it happens again and again.
Michael Thomas Willis – there could also be a benefit of sharing pain and emotional stuff during worship. God understand we are all humans. You also know that likely some in the service is also suffering something too.
Feel free to add to the conversation either on Facebook or in the comments below.