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A Banner or a Flag?

Posted on 11 April, 2016 by David Stanfield

Recently, I received a question from a lady asking me about the difference between a banner and a flag. It’s a good question and well worth answering.

“What is the difference between a flag and a banner? I’ve always thought a banner is something with images that speak a message, whereas a flag is solid in colour with lines and geometric design. Banners can be both vertical and horizontal but flags are only horizontal. Am I close?”

In my opinion, a “flag” is simply the American name for what we in Australia call a “banner”. For example, you say “Fall”, I say “Autumn”.

However, there are a number of reasons why I specifically chose the word “banner” to represent what I do.

First of all, in English, “I’m flagging”, literally means I am running out of energy and strength. This is not the picture we want to give of banner worship and certainly not what we experience!

National flags are also simply called “flags”, even though they do meet just about any criteria for a banner.

Most importantly, I chose the word “banner” to help shift the ideas and culture in the Christian world surrounding the use of “flags”.

Flags have often been viewed as strictly feminine. Waving a flag also usually gives the idea of just waving an object in the air.

However, “wielding a banner” sends a much more powerful message and is inclusive of both genders.

In American culture, the treatment of national flags is more extreme than in most other nations. I think this has also spilled over into the use of Christian flags and thus often creates a barrier for many people using them.

In Scripture, a “flag” is actually a type of water plant. Instead, the Bible uses a number of different words for standards and ensigns. However, most of the five Hebrew words used have been translated as “banner”.

For more information on why I have encouraged people around the world to replace their “flagging ministry” with “wielding banners”, refer to my book Wielding Banners for Worship, Warfare and Ministry › It contains a whole section addressing this particular topic.

Trust my 5 cents are useful!!

Posted on 11 April, 2016 by David Stanfield

Your comments and reflections on this post are welcome: Email enquiry@worshipbanners.org

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Banners in the Bible

Isaiah 13:1-4
An oracle concerning Babylon that Isaiah son of Amoz saw: Raise a banner on a bare hilltop, shout to them; beckon to them to enter the gates of the nobles. I have commanded my holy ones; I have summoned my warriors to carry out my wrath- those who rejoice in my triumph. Listen, a noise on the mountains, like that of a great multitude! Listen, an uproar among the kingdoms, like nations massing together! The LORD Almighty is mustering an army for war.

Jeremiah 50:2
Announce and proclaim among the nations, lift up a banner and proclaim it; keep nothing back, but say, Babylon will be captured; Bel will be put to shame, Marduk filled with terror, her images will be put to shame and her idols filled with terror.

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