This post originally published on a previously-owned blog and was imported here to simplify my life. Please excuse any confusion due to this merge. I hope you enjoy the content!
We all know what it’s like to be the new person. And some of us know what it’s like to be a long-time member of a church. But how do we meld those two together to make it comfortable for both sides?
Let me warn you: I have fierce opinions on this subject. 🙂
It all really consciously started [“it” being my personal mission to do whatever I can to make a new person comfortable in the church setting] with a seminar we weren’t really supposed to attend. Ha! The district of my particular church denomination does quarterly seminars/training for its pastors. Each quarter has a different theme.
Mike and I had moved back to Oregon less than a year before and had become more involved in ministry than we probably ever had. Mike was asked to give a little spiel about Extreme at this pastors’ seminar, and I went with him. I don’t remember why but we ended up sitting through a couple hours of it – this sounds like a bad thing, but it wasn’t! It rocked! Pastor Jerry Moen from Church on the Hill in McMinnville, Oregon spoke on “the new person” among many other awesome topics…
He was speaking on a broad level yet with specific examples that would really touch the hearts of each pastor attending if they were truly listening. About everything from the color on the sanctuary walls to flowers to -dare i say it- music.
Wait, flowers? Yep. Pastor Jerry made a really good point that’s probably a sensitive thing for me to bring up since it’s a whole ministry at my church, but there is a reeeeally fine line between classy/pretty/lively flower settings to set a mood for worship to looking like a funeral home. I’m not saying anything more on this but it’s just a discussion that sometimes needs to be had.
So since then, new people have been my passion. Every Sunday, I put on my new-person-goggles and think to myself, “Would that ruin a visitor’s experience, make them bitter or cynical, or would it make them excited to come back next week?”
Let me just say: I’m not talking about changing our beliefs, core values, ideas on modesty, anything spiritual or obeying clear Biblical commandments. I’m talking about meeting our generation where they are without compromising any of those things. Trust me, my #1 StrengthFinders Theme is Belief. That should say something…
There’s a lot to talk about on this subject, but my one topic for today is lingo. I’m sure every church – not to mention every social group, gang, clique, company or tribe – has their own words, their own ways of talking. You may not realize it but it’s true. I first heard about this when I started dating Mike. He had only been a Christian for about 7 years then and he vividly remembered the awkwardness and discomfort upon realizing he didn’t talk like everyone else. Now, I get it that most groups and gangs don’t actually want other people to be comfortable or feel welcome. That’s where we should set ourselves apart. That’s where we are called to set ourselves apart.
And have you noticed all the acronyms? I suppose it’s easier when you’re a big organization to shorten everything you have going, but if a speaker says the acronym in his or her pulpit announcement or sermon, it is my opinion that he or she should also say it out. Let us educate new people about what we’re talking about instead of leaving them confused.
Here’s a Nazarene example since that’s just what I know: We had a speaker come share a good year or so ago and sheesh! His whole sermon was chock full of acronyms. NMI, DS, GA, NYI, NPH, NYC and more. I can’t imagine sitting in on that and not having been raised in this church. Now, he was a good speaker and had good things to say but when something triggers that “new person” alert in my brain, it troubles me.
We have phrases like “work and witness”… perhaps we can just call them mission projects? Everyone knows what that is (at least a much wider population). We always refer to “Kansas City” in certain ways… perhaps we just call it headquarters? I’m sure there’s more out there, but hopefully you see my point…
I’m a good rambler. 🙂 I’ll be done for the day now! Thoughts on this?