Why schools shouldn’t have to have a daily act of worship

worship is a choiceIt is currently the law in the England and Wales that schools must provide a daily act of collective worship and it may surprise you to learn that I don’t agree with this particular law. If you try to make people worship God, you may end up with good singing but not necessarily worship. An offering to God is only worship if it is freely given and the person believes that God is worthy of worship. You cannot worship what you don’t believe in and for this reason I believe it is wrong to expect people who don’t believe in God to worship him.

Jesus called everyone to him, but he didn’t make people follow him or try to set up a system so that everyone would have to follow him. Jesus gave people free choice and he accepted them whether they chose to follow him or not. Worship is literally about worth-ship. I worship Jesus because I believe that he is worth following. I believe that he is the eternal and almighty God who loves us so much that he became human and that he died on the cross and come back to life in order to open the way for us to know God now and forever. I worship Jesus, because believing what I do about him means that worship is the only appropriate response. If we Christians ever feel that we need to force people to worship Jesus then I don’t think we understand who he is.

Jesus said that the worship he wanted involved people worshipping in spirit and in truth. In spirit means to have God’s presence in us as we worship and in truth means that we need to worship genuinely and honestly. The Psalms are a part of the Bible that have examples of worship and it is interesting that they contain phrases such as ‘God why do you sleep?’ and ‘God why have you forsaken me?’ rather than just the God you are awesome kind of comments. The worshipper is allowed to tell God how they feel as they worship. We express our relationship with God as part of our worship and my experience is that as we pour out our frustrations to God that he shows us more clearly who he is and how he is at work. Worshipping in truth is also about understanding who God is as we worship him, that we worship him for who he really is rather than for who we would like him to be.

I can’t stand whingeing Christians who bleat on about how it’s not fair that we aren’t influencing the laws in our country in the way that we used to. Some Christians appear to be more concerned about our status in society that they are about telling people about Jesus. It makes me wonder if the objective of the church to some people is to create a nice middle class country rather than to help people understand who Jesus is so that they can choose to worship and follow him if they want to. I want to introduce people to who Jesus is, not tell them that they ought to follow him or that they ought to worship him.

Although I don’t think that worship should be compulsory in schools, I think that it should be a requirement that pupils have space to reflect on spirituality and values. One of the reasons that I think that our society is in a mess is because many people don’t have clear values. The philosophy of just looking after ourselves will never create a strong or healthy society.

Holistic education must involve the opportunity to learn about spirituality. If I lead an assembly I may pray and I think that’s good for the children to learn why Christians believe that prayer is important and to see how it works.

I think that prayer spaces in schools are also great ways of allowing children to experiment with faith and God. Prayer spaces include a variety of activities with something to do that provokes/inspires prayer and personal reflection. I think this is great because it allows young people to explore what faith is. There is an opportunity to participate and to engage with activities or simply to look and learn what others believe if that is what people attending would prefer.

When I am in school I use phrases like ‘Christians believe that’ rather than ‘it is true that’ and I feel this is very appropriate in our multicultural society. Some Christians get very upset at other religions being promoted equally but this has never bothered me. I believe that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and if I am right then I should have nothing to worry about from people who believe something else. We should only be afraid or worried if we have no confidence in our God.

Jesus really is worth following.



About honestaboutmyfaith

Hi, my name is Graeme and I’m married to a very patient wife. We have 4 children, 2 rabbits, a terrapin (and not a lot of peace and quiet!). I’m a Regional Minister for the Eastern Baptist Association in the UK (the views expressed in this blog are my own) and I am especially interested in making Church accessible to people who have no church background and also in how we disciple people in order to equip them to live out their faith in the 21st Century.
This entry was posted in Being honest about our faith, Faith, Jesus, worship and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Why schools shouldn’t have to have a daily act of worship

  1. Anne Brown says:

    Good morning Graeme

    May I start by saying that to a certain extent I do agree with you on a number of comments you have made. When anybody asks me what I believe, what is my faith I explain to them what I believe and why I believe it. I NEVER tell anybody that my way is the right way, that my belief is right and theirs is wrong or any of the other cliche’s associated with the so called “sharing of beliefs”. However, having said that I do believe that we are a Christian country by the mere fact we are ruled by a Monarchy that is Protestant (how I detest labels) and therefore the act of morning worship in our schools should reflect our status as such and other faiths should NOT be enforced upon our school worship times. An example of this is that where my brother and his family live, an area now known as Greater London, when his children were attending school it was compulsorary for the school to have the morning worship following another culture (which I shall not name) as there were a large number of Asian children in the school. It was not allowed for the morning worship to be carried out as a Christian assembly because of the risk of upsetting or offending another persons faith or belief. This is WRONG – I am so very sorry but that is trying to make others worship something they do not believe in that is not the main faith of our country – so I have to agree with some of what the people you refer to are saying. Please don’t think though that I believe for one single second that I agree with ALL they may say.

    Also on the point of making others worship what they do not believe in – they have the choice to sing and/or pray as they feel so inclined to do so. In other words if you don’t want to sing/pray then don’t!

    I think it IS important that we have worship in schools – for some children it will be the only interaction they have with faith, as was the same for my own upbringing (I am one of 9 children and the only one that attends a church and has a strong faith), so this proves my point about freedom of choice I think.

    I also think it gives those that want to worship, but would otherwise run the risk of being bullied, excluded or discriminated against in any other way by their peers, the freedom to do so without being singled out. Faith should be freely available to all regardless of colour, belief, creed, sex, family orientation and a myriad of other confines.

    Jesus Christ was sent to show us the way forward, to bring us redemption, release, forgiveness to show us the path God has for us, the pleasures that will be ours in heaven when we finally meet with God, but Jesus also showed us that life isn’t easy, and having the freedom in any society to worship is not a given right. So to have the worship in school will show children and teach children more about the belief of Christians I think – but as with all things in life it is how the message is delivered that makes the difference.

    I do apologise Graeme as when I started to write my response I in now way intended for this to be so long, nor did I intend to sound so biased, but in any event if you have made it to this part of my response, then thank you for kindly reading my reply.

    God’s peace and blessings



    • graemeross4 says:

      Anne, thanks for your kind and gracious thoughts. I appreciate it when people disagree respectfully. That being said I’m not sure we are saying entirely different things. I would still advocate for school assemblies and other things such as prayer spaces in schools that allow children the opportunity to engage with and learn about what Christianity is. I certainly have no time for the argument about not being able to lead an assembly as a Christian because we might offend someone. A few years ago I did lead regular assemblies in a school that was mainly from children from Muslim backgrounds. This was so appreciated that they asked me to become a school governor.

      I strongly believe there should be an opportunity in every school for children to lean about and to encounter what Christianity is as part of their education.


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