Last week, we took five grandchildren to Niagara Falls for (what my wife calls) a “Grand Adventure” (only grandparents and grandchildren allowed). During the trip, our two oldest grandsons (ages 13 and 14) began to point out sites and businesses we were passing, then and then became highly animated. Occasionally, they asked me to stop the car for a few minutes—at a post office, a gas station or another landmark. I then discovered that they had discovered Pokemon Go!
The next two days were consumed by this new game. They played constantly—except when we rode The Maid of the Mist, because their phones would have become water damaged! They even played after “lights out” in the motel room. (Not all the lights went out!)
Somewhere in all of this, I asked about the game. I didn’t want to play. I was only curious. What is it about? How is it played? The answer came back in a fast and furious response with terminology I could scarcely understand. It seemed a whole new language that eluded my easy comprehension. I finally stopped asking.
Sometimes, I think the church is guilty of speaking a language that eludes common understanding. The worship guide or the sermon contains terminology that many people simply do not comprehend: justification, sanctification, even the word “grace.”
Or instructions from the worship leader to meet following worship in the CLC—whatever and wherever that is.
I deleted the word “sermon” in my own church worship guide in favor of the word “message.” Somehow, “sermon” sounded ominous and foreboding, even a bit harsh.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said many years ago that Christianity needs a new language that has a new power, one that changes lives. Does your church use a language that all (or most) people can easily understand? Examine your worship guide and signage carefully. If we are really to form discipleship and transform the world with the message of Jesus, we need to make sure that we use words that connect.
Learn more about Pokemon Go in this video: