circus pony

Worship’s One Trick Pony

David Manner suggests using other elements in worship services.

The origin of the idiom “One Trick Pony” goes back to the days of the traveling circus. A trained pony or small horse was often used as a main circus attraction. Without any other acts or animals, these small circuses were often criticized as only offering a one-trick pony.

The idiom is now used to identify a person or organization that only does one thing. It often suggests an inflexibility or inability to learn or consider anything new.

Music has devolved into worship’s one trick pony. We have dressed it up, dressed it down, changed its direction and adjusted its speed. We’ve even tried a younger pony. But it’s still the same trick.

Music is an expression given to us so that we might offer it to God in worship. But it is not the expression. Maybe considering the additional worship options below could alleviate the pressure on music to serve as the primary driver of worship renewal and consequently diminish its solitary blame for worship conflict.


We defend the Bible as foundational to our theology and practices and yet rarely read its text in our public services of worship. Doesn’t its limited use convey a lack of trust in the very Word necessary to the credibility of our faith?

Worship must begin with the Word. Scripture must be frequently and variously read and allowed to stand on its own. Biblical text must organically yield our sermons and songs rather than serving as fertilizer for our own contrived language.

Continue reading.


Essential reading for worship leaders since 2002.


Get the latest worship news, ideas and a list

of the top CCLI songs delivered every Tuesday... for FREE!