Does worship have a gender?

Photo of a streetlamp
Image by Joelk75 - CC:By

In the past couple of days I’ve seen the subject of worship come up on Twitter a bit more than usual. Initially it was a series of joke #machoWorshipSongs and this seemed to evolve into a discussion about the use of masculine/feminine/romantic language in worship songs.

In the first instance I and a few others commented to each other that the “joke” was somewhat lost as so many of the songs we use in worship have a masculine or (as one person put it) pseudo-aggressive tone to them. In the second it emerged from a comment about how men don’t like the “Jesus is my boyfriend” type songs intoa debate about the appropriateness of this language and how it’s not just men who dislike them.

What I find interesting is that both fell into the standard trap of presuming “worship” is a) collective/corporate and b) uses words and language. Yes it’s true we get as many “Worship is more than singing!” declarations as we do “The church is the people not the building” ones and to the most part both are valid statements but what these discussions reminded me of was something I preached about a few years back.

### What is worship?

It’s a well known meme that wroship derives from worth-ship, that is when we worship we are giving God worth, telling him what he is worth to us. This is interesting because it makes it easy to extend worship into the rest of our lives. Sometimes I struggle to think of worship in any other context than singing, praying, making, painting, playing etc. in a collective sense. It’s easy for us to say our lives should be worship but how do we do that.

The answer – I believe – is found in the following passage:

> “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matt 5:14-16 NIV

When we shine, when we show our best in service to others we are giving God value in our eyes and in theirs (note v16). This is something that I find very important and it’s the inspiration behind [#EntertainingAngels]( (formerly known as Give Up bad Coffee For Lent).

We give God worth.
We worship.

### Service is worship, worship is service

Serving others is worship. Putting the needs of others before yourself is worship. Look at how that passage appears in the Message (emphasis mine):

> “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colours in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand-shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. **By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven**. Matt 5:14-16 The Message

So let’s stop worrying if Church doesn’t appeal to our particular tastes and start figuring out if we leave a good taste in the mouths of those we meet. Because I have a sneaky feeling that in heaven people will spend a lot more time interacting with each other than they do standing beside each other singing.

As a side effect of this, once we also start to think of worship emerging from service it puts our roles in church in a new perspective, particularly if we are “worship” leaders.