When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.
Some years ago in, I think, Australia, a group of church-going young people were asked to define some of the Christian jargon that is commonplace in churches. According to them, ‘Redemption’ is what you do with a voucher, ‘salvation’ is an ointment you put on a graze and ‘grace’ is what you say before a meal if you’re having the vicar over for tea.
One of the questions I am often asked as a Children and Youth Development Officer is “Have you any tips on how to do a children’s address?” to which my answer is always “Keep it simple and avoid jargon”.
You see, whilst WE might think we know what a word or phrase means, we can’t be sure that the listener shares that same understanding. And this is true not just of children in the church but also the adults who are there, too. And the adults who maybe aren’t at church with whom we are tasked to share the Good News.
We can make our faith as difficult and wordy as we want, we can use jargon which actively excludes others, we can be a little clique with in-jokes and our own language… but how does that help us to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
How refreshing that Paul in his letter to the emerging church in Corinth recognised this.
How disappointing that, some two thousand years later, we seem to have forgotten.
Jesus knew what to do – Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself – Keep It Simple, Stupid.
Loving God, Help us to use language that builds bridges rather than walls Help us to use language that opens You up, rather than closes You off Help us to remember to keep it simple. Amen
Leo Roberts, Children and Youth Development Officer, North Western Synod