Monte Hunt – Worship Leader
You know what you’ll often hear when you go to a NASCAR event? NASCAR lingo: “Did you see Gordon use his chrome horn on #59? And hey, Earnhardt’s really haulin’ the mail this week!” …At a baseball game? Baseball lingo: “And he retires the side with a can-o-corn fly out to left.” …And at Church? Yes, you guessed it: church lingo. Like any cultural gathering, the church has it’s own unique jargon.
“As we come to this time of remembrance, let us meditate on the Lamb who was slain, offering Himself as a propitiation for sins, and is now seated at the right hand of the majesty that is in heaven. Glory, hallelujah, and amen!”
“I….don’t understand the words that are coming out of your mouth right now,” said anyone at church for the first time.
And language can become even more esoteric depending on which church you go to. Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptists, Methodist, Catholic, or Church of Christ: they all have their own linguistic idiosyncrasies.
As a worship leader I do my best to avoid many of these terms from stage. There is a simple reason for this: My desire is for no one to feel left behind in the moment because of a disconnect in terminology. If I can use words that everyone can relate to, then everyone is in the moment together. Language matters.
Our church has six, carefully selected, core values that we hold. These values are the lens with which we as a church view all of our efforts through. If anything we are doing is in conflict with these values – it’s out. And these values are not self-generated. Rather, we believe they are all deeply rooted in the Bible (God’s Word). You can find the complete list HERE, but for now I’d like to focus on just one of the six: we exist for all people. Central is here for the believer and the nonbeliever, the member and the outsider, the veteran and the first-timer. After all, Jesus Himself said,
It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. Luke 5:31
Friends, as a church we need to be intensely focused on reaching those who are missing from God’s family. The words that we choose play a crucial role in how people perceive Jesus though us. When we speak with those God misses most, our words can either serve to draw them closer to God, or potentially push them further away. Language matters.
If I take my car to a mechanic and I say to him, “I was driving like normal and all of a sudden all my gauges went crazy on the dash. Then eventually the car died and it won’t start again. What’s wrong with it?”
If his response was, “Well duh, it’s you’re alternator! How could you not know that? That’s like auto-school 101, man.”
Okay, marinate on that response for a minute. Now let’s consider this type of answer, “Well sir, that sounds like an issue with your alternator. The alternator is what provides a continuous charge to your car’s battery. Once we swap out the old one for a new unit you’ll be good to go. Are there any other questions you might have?”
Now, the question to consider is this: what was different about the end result of both scenarios? Did I get a new alternator? Yes. Is my car running smoothly again? Yes. Did I feel appreciated and valued by both mechanics? Definitely not! I can only speak for myself, but I greatly dislike feeling like an idiot…ever. And which guy do you think I’ll return to the next time I need a tune up? I think you know the answer.
Let’s apply this lesson to church. When (notice I didn’t say if) you or I invite a friend to Central who is unfamiliar with church – meet them where they are. Before you head into service let them know that at the beginning there will be a time when we all stand and sing, and that they are welcome to simply stand with us and take it in. When it’s time for communion or offering, if it isn’t said from stage, lean over and let them know it’s no big deal to simply let the stuff pass right on by. Then after service tell them, “Hey, I know church stuff can be confusing at times. Was there anything that didn’t make sense to you? I’d love to help clear anything up if I can.”
God is thrilled about all His sons and daughters who are a part of His family. But He has called you and me to help bring back those who He’s missing. So let’s use words that bring us together, and let’s go find them, and meet them where they are.
Suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:8-10