I remember having a chat to a guy who was leading a church in Birmingham a while back about the language Christian’s use. So often, it’s so esoteric it’s gibberish. Recognising this, what this guy did was he paid his unchurched neighbour to turn up to their Sunday services for two weeks running and to write down on a notepad everything he did not understand and that was not adequately explained. Apparently, more than one notepad was required!
I often think of this when I’m preaching or leading the service in our gathered meetings. In my experience, in the language we use we often exclude those not in the ‘inner circle’. This ‘inner circle’ doesn’t have to be just excluding ‘not-yet Christians’ or the ‘unchurched’. This inner circle might be excluding those with no theological training / those who don’t actually like debating / or are not in the ‘in crowd’ familiar with all the latest jargon and speak colloquial ‘Christian-ese’ (like a few of the phrases quoted above!)
I think that there’s a place for, and spaces should be created for, there to be opportunities for those who want to ‘vent’ their thinking (for me, this blog can be that place very often – so that my preaching can be focussed on serving and not venting). But ‘gathered’ church is not that place (by gathered, in this context, I’m referring to our main [often Sunday] gatherings). Jesus said ‘feed my sheep’; he did not say feed my giraffes – those with their head so high in the clouds that they’re of no earthly use…
Notwithstanding the last three paragraphs, my question is this:
Is there a place for language in church that is not ‘normal’ everyday language?
Is there a place for language – properly explained – that expresses the ‘otherness’ of God? Words we wouldn’t use in everyday parlance with our colleagues at work: words like ‘holy’, ‘justified’, ‘worship’ etc… Finding ways of responding to God which we’ve reserved for Him only?
What do you think?