A couple days ago we talked about the appearance of over production and how that can overshadow the message of Christ on a weekly basis. It is easy to pick on the production part of a Sunday morning, mostly because there are so many strong views about where church has gone in the past 15 years. But I want to take a look at something that doesn’t always get the same amount of play that production receives, but can be equally confusing.
Have you ever been around a group of military personnel? Have you ever hung out with musicians? How about computer programmers? Have you tried to follow their conversation? Have you ever been more confused in your entire life? It happens all the time, and it happens when people of a like mind get together and start talking about their craft or the thing they are interested in. They get excited and start using words that we didn’t know existed. Even more, they start using acronyms and abbreviations that are only known by people in the same circles. Suddenly you feel like you’re in the middle of an NFL huddle and they are only using letters and hand signals. You have no doubt that what they are saying is fascinating, but your inability to interact and communicate effectively with them has you searching for the fastest out so you can find someone that uses words that you know.
I feel this whenever churches get to the announcements portion of their services. Ironically enough, this is the time in a service when we are wanting people to find a place where they can get involved in the life of the church. For whatever reason we use this time to use our special language. We explain all of our upcoming events and plans that are native to our body that, unless you have some working knowledge of who we are, you sit there lost for a second while we use our church contractions and catchy phrases that a few staff members fought over a couple weeks ago. Once that has happened, you open yourself up as a church to the possibility of all the other words that may be spoken during the message to be more confusing than they may have already been because we confused people 20 minutes before. Am I overstating some of this? I’m sure I am. But I also know how my brain works and how I tend to dwell on things that confuse me until I get them straightened out.
This is not another post about how to not use inside language to make new people feel welcome. That’s really not what I’m getting at. Is it true that we should consider the verbiage that we use from the front of the stage? I think so. But the importance is more because of the depth of the Gospel and not the perceived brain capacity of the people listening. I’m starting to really wrestle with the idea of keeping the narrow pathway to the cross as clear as possible. Why? Well, it’s a narrow pathway. There’s only light on your feet and the path. I don’t think it’s really fair for us to throw anymore obstacles out there for people. Sure the pathway to hell is dark, but that’s because people turn off the lights because they don’t want anyone seeing what they are doing anyway.
The difficulty level of this concept has risen dramatically in the recent times because of all of the issues that are in the news right now. I believe that in a lot of ways the church has stuck its foot into some of these issues, but the shoe that we are wearing is too small and it’s on the wrong foot. Translation: the stance is convoluted and not real sturdy, and as a result we are taking a lot of hits. I expect us to take hits from non-Christians. But Christians are throwing blows as well. I tend to think that it’s because of their confusion as to what they believe about who God really is. Where does that confusion come from…