So….this has been a hot topic lately. Is the church too churchy? Let’s call it a Worship Experience instead of a Church Service. (Ummm…isn’t it the same thing? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet….)
Turn the lights off. Make it look like a concert. Don’t raise your hands or get too crazy. Get rid of the pews. It’s not a sermon or a message, you’re just talking now. Make it short. Don’t bring a Bible.
Don’t use Christianese like born again or righteous or justified or fellowship. Did you know that even the word sin is considered Christianese now?
Christianese is jargon used by and among Christians. But did you know we aren’t the only ones with a jargon.
Doctors have their own jargon. So do computer techs. And nurses. And teenagers 🙂
Surfers have their own lingo. Barrel doesn’t mean part of a gun. It’s a hollow-faced wave. Blown out isn’t part of a haircut & style package. It means a wave is unridable. And a nose isn’t on your face. It’s the pointed bit at the front of the surfboard.
They don’t apologize for their lingo. They don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. They do explain it. And people who want to be a part of their culture accept it and learn it.
I get that we want to be mindful of our audience. We need to be aware that when we’re talking to people who don’t know Jesus they aren’t going to understand what we say if all we say is Christian jargon. Especially when we’re not in church.
But it’s starting to creep into the church.
If I can’t talk about Christian things in Christian terms in church, or especially with other Christians, something’s not right. We belong to a different culture that has its own lingo that we need to know. And talk about.
“But Toni, we want people to be comfortable in church so they come back. They won’t be comfortable if we talk about being righteous and justified. Or if the lights are on. Or if it’s too long. They won’t be comfortable if we talk about sin.”
I just have two thoughts:
Church is supposed to be churchy
From what I can tell from the Word, church was always a place for God’s people to meet together to worship Him and learn about Him. That was the main purpose of the tabernacle. It was the main purpose of the home churches in the book of Acts and the larger churches once they were recognized by the government as a religion and allowed to meet in buildings.
Church is supposed to be churchy. And by churchy I mean the tangible presence of God is supposed to be there. We’re supposed to talk about His Word using His lingo.
That doesn’t mean we stop inviting people to church. We want them to come into contact with God’s presence and learn about Him too.
But trust me when I tell you that not one person who walks into a church who isn’t walking with God (oops….there’s that Christianese again) is surprised it’s a church. Nor are they shocked we have lingo.
Did you know Jesus used His own lingo? When Nicodemus came to Him in the middle of the night, Jesus told Him he had to be born again. And do you know what? Nicodemus had NO IDEA what that meant. So he asked.
If people are coming to church, they’re expecting it to be churchy. It’s a church. Odds are they’re looking for something different than what they have anyway! And if they hear something they don’t understand in the message, it’s our job to explain it to them. Just like Jesus did with Nicodemus. If they’re convicted when we talk about sin, that’s a good thing. And we can help them through that too.
It’s more about what we do than what we say
More people are turned off by Christians who don’t act like Christians than by Christians who talk in Christianese.
Something I read in Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest stuck out to me this week.
The resounding evidence of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life is the unmistakable family likeness to Jesus Christ and the freedom from everything that is not like Him.
Church isn’t the only place the unbeliever is supposed to see and hear about Jesus. They should see a family resemblance in us. Outside of the walls of the church.
Jesus said, “They will know you are my disciples by your love.” He also said we’ll be known by our fruit. Not once did He say they will know us by our Christianese or lack thereof.
People are more likely to walk away from God or stay away because of someone’s actions. Because there is no family resemblance to Jesus.
Do I think we need to be mindful of what we say? Sure. Do I think we can get carried away with Christianese and turn people off? Of course. Do I think there’s anything wrong with lights off in worship, a concert look, or an updated building? Absolutely not.
But if we think these are the main things keeping people away from Him or bringing people to Him, we’re sadly mistaken.
Surfers look and sound like surfers. And doctors like doctors. And Christians should look and sound like Him.
Let’s spend more time focusing on that family resemblance than we do policing ours (and other’s) Christianese. When people feel the love and see the joy and peace in us in the midst of this chaotic world, they aren’t going to care how we say it. Or if they’re at a Worship Experience or a Church Service. They won’t care if the lights are on or off. They’re just going to want what we have.