How many times do we look for the meaning behind what people do or say, or presume that they mean one thing when they actually mean something else? We look at how people move and try to read the body language. We look at coloured packaging and get an impression of what it contains. We look at symbols and we know that label with white text on a red background with a squiggle says what brand of soft drink or pop is in the bottle.


One thing that became obvious when reading through some of the ways that these worship tools were used was that there are a number of symbolic meanings to movements. These have been drawn from a variety of sources.

The first thing I was taught with flags was that to praise God the flag should be twirled so that it came up from the bottom (in a similar way to an underhand throw of a ball) so that it looked as though you were raising God up. The next thing was that to strike down the enemy you used them the opposite way so the stress went on pushing down at the front (in a similar way to an overarm throw). This seemed to be quite obvious. There is also a fairly common idea that is expressed as the past being behind you and the future being ahead of you. Another dimension that can be used is height with low down movements referring to hell and high up movements referring to heaven, with earth in between. There may even be other appropriate concepts to use with movements.

Another source for ideas for movements is the original languages of the Bible. One of the words translated rejoice literally means in the Hebrew to move in a circle or to spring about or to dance. In other words, if you want to express your joy why not move in a circle.

Some people use a language they have learnt to use in another context to praise God. These include Makaton (used to communicate with people with learning difficulties) and British Sign Language (used to communicate with members of the Deaf community). Many FE colleges offer courses in sign language, some people have even enrolled on these to learn this language to develop their movement skills during worship. This is most commonly used without worship tools but some signs still have quite a visual effect when you have a praise ring in your hand. There is a link at the bottom of the page that will take you to a specialist bookshop in case you want to explore this avenue further.

Another language that movements are drawn from is the language of mime. This is an art form in itself. One organisation that that helps people learn more about mime in a Christian context is Mimeistry. They do some classes and seminars in both the US and Europe (yes including the UK).

One of the strangest sources is mathematics, yes the academic subject that deals with numbers, quantities and shapes. One of the symbols they use for infinity looks like a number 8 on its side infinity symbol.  According to the Chambers 21st Century dictionary infinity is a distance or quantity that is without limit or boundaries and eternity is a time regarded as having no end. OK they do not mean exactly the same thing but the basic idea of something being endless is the same. It is amazing how many times people move a praise ring or a flag in this shape and have no idea of this connection.

It is a good idea to do Bible studies based on particular themes that relate to the banner you are doing or common themes from worship songs. This will develop your understanding of these themes and make it easier to understand how to represent them as symbols or movements or even in colours. Sometimes, a song on a particular theme
may be expressed using a particular colour of worship tool with a particular symbol on it using a particular movement, so in the end everything comes together.

Forest Bookshop This link will take you to the home page of a UK based bookshop that specialises in books on deafness and deaf issues. They have videos of hymns and carols as well as dictionaries of signs including one on signs specially relating to the church.