Why Your Church Plant Must Avoid Insider Church Language
My wife recently hosted a baby shower for some friends of ours that ended up upsetting our youngest son. Wyatt is five years old, he’s the youngest of four, and has two older sisters who dote all over him. He was really excited about the baby shower. Until he discovered about half way into it that he wasn’t going to be able to bring the baby upstairs and give the baby its first bath.
He mistakenly thought that a baby shower was a party to celebrate giving a new baby their first bath. Cute, funny, and at the same time I can see how the mind of a 5-year-old can come to that confusing conclusion.
What’s not so cute or funny is that churches confuse people who are unfamiliar with Jesus and His church all the time by the words and language that they use. What’s really sad is that the point of this whole thing is to make the Gospel clear, not confusing.
The most obvious way to tell if a church is insider-focused or outsider-focused is the language that they choose to use. It either says that the church is “inclusive” or “exclusive.” And it’s important because words build worlds. There are all kinds of ways this goes wrong in churches; here are three big ones…obviously there are more (in fact I’d love to hear your thoughts and what you’ve seen in churches…leave a comment).
Preaching as though everyone already knows Jesus and comes to the room with basic Bible knowledge. They don’t. Unless you’re just doing church for church people (which isn’t really church). Most people don’t even know the books of the Bible or what the big numbers and little numbers mean.
Coming up with “cool names and brands” for ministries that mean nothing to people outside the church. There are all too many examples of real life funny but sad examples.
Stuff like mentioning people from stage by name without explaining who they are. For instance, I’ve been to a church where an announcement was made to go see “Jim” to join a small group. I’m thinking to myself, if I don’t know Jesus and am unfamiliar with church world…who’s Jim, how do I find him…and what the heck is a small group?
Two big principles to keep in mind when it comes to the language you choose to use in your church are: Clear always trumps cute or cool, and you’re always better off just calling things what they are.
This article originally appeared here.