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My mom got a Facebook yesterday (kindof a big deal for her) and I was on the phone talking to her trying to tell her where to find her messages. My fiance was sitting next to me saying, “She’s not going to understand that. You’re using too much jargon.” How many times does the church fall into that same trap?
We need to remember that visitors to our church will not know all the vocabulary that we are used to using like: salvation, sanctification, Eucharist. It can be very hard for visitors to come in to a service and have no idea what the pastor is talking about. The book “Church Marketing 101” by Richard Reising talks about this. “When they [the visitors] hear words they don’t recognize, one of two things usually happens. If they are taught what these words mean, they will feel included in the conversation. If the words are not explained, visitors will be confused by the usage and made to feel excluded and unimportant.” We need to make our words hit home to non-believers. We need to make an effort to invite them into our inner circle.
I heard about a few churches that have been doing a year-long walk through a book of the bible, and I would be interested to see how their attendance numbers were affected by this. If I went into a church that had been walking through a book I would feel lost and like I had lost all the background.
If I had a friend that invited me to a big medical dinner, I would already feel like an outsider before getting there. And once I got there they would be talking about surgeries and illnesses and probably using big words that I didn’t understand. If these terms weren’t clarified or explained to me, I would have no idea what was going on, and I would be reluctant to ever go back, but if people used words that I could understand and made an effort to include me in the conversation I would feel welcomed and accepted into their conversation.
There is a reason why people write word on the street version Bibles. Christianity and its vocabulary can be cryptic, and it needs to be put into words that people can understand. The use of media can help a lot with this by giving people words and vocabulary to relate back to something they know.
This is a conscious effort that needs to be made to include visitors in our conversations. It is a huge step to making them feel welcomed.