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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

Exodus 17:9-16
Moses said to Joshua, 'Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.'
So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill.
As long as Moses held out his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.
When Moses' hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up - one on one side, one on the other - so that his hands remained steady till sunset.
…Moses built an altar and called it The LORD is my Banner. He said, 'For hands were lifted up to the throne of the LORD. The LORD will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.'

Psalms 60:4
But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner to be unfurled against the bow.

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