Everyone Worships

The Everyone Worships Initiative is a creative means to start conversations about what people worship. Romans 1:18-32 teaches that when people reject the true God they don’t stop worshiping altogether. Rather, they exchange worship of God for the worship of something created (Rom. 1:23).

The American novelist, David Foster Wallace, recognized this, even though he was a life-long agnostic. In a famous commencement speech in 2005 at Kenyon College, Wallace expounded on the simple idea that everyone worships something.

“Because here’s something else that’s weird but true: in the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.”

He proceeded to explain that the things most people worship “will eat them alive.”

“If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you.”

The Everyone Worships Initiative uses attention-getting t-shirts, stickers, and more to draw attention to this idea that many people would deny, or at least have never considered before. By using the idea of an agnostic, people who might be opposed to the idea are more open to considering the concept.

By displaying the Everyone Worships logo on various items, you accomplish two goals. First, the logo includes a “.org” designation that takes people to a website that walks them through the idea that everyone worships something, beginning with Wallace’s quote and moving them to a gospel presentation. Second, the hope is that displaying the logo will lead to questions and conversations about the concept of everyone worshiping something.

What do you do if someone asks what the phrase means? Here is a suggested path for conversation and how a conversation might go:

Unbeliever: What does that mean, “everyone worships”?

Christian: It is a phrase coined by a famous agnostic writer, David Foster Wallace. Even though he didn’t believe in God, he claimed that in his experience, every person worships something, either a deity, or something like money, beauty, and power. He said there is no such thing as not worshiping. Have you ever thought about that before?”

Unbeliever: I don’t think I worship anything. I don’t pray to a god or go to church, so I am not sure you could say I worship anything.

Christian: I think what Wallace means by worship is that we all find our significance and identity in something or someone. To worship means to give yourself over to and find yourself in something. It is that thing that if we lost it, life would not feel worth living anymore. And Wallace claimed everyone worships something. I agree with him. So, where do you find significance? On what do you base your identity?

Unbeliever: I have never thought about that before. I would have to take some time to think about it.

Christian: The reason I wear this shirt (or whatever item bears the Everyone Worships logo) is to point people to the only person worth worshiping, that is, Jesus. He is the Son of God who came to rescue us from our sin and to provide true significance. Can I tell you about him?

Whether or not an actual conversation follows this pattern, the hope is that by raising the question of what the unbeliever worships, they will be led to consider Jesus Christ as the only worthy object of worship.

We hope that the Everyone Worships Initiative will open many doors for gospel conversations!