In our churches, we often act like everyone has grown up in a congregation. In fact, we act like they’ve grown up in our particular tradition. For instance, we use really strange words. We toss them like everyone ought to know what they mean, but you actually have to spend a lot of time in a church to understand them at all.
Sometimes we use them every week, but never stop to explain them.
And there are other words that most people understand, but they would never use them outside of the church doors.
Then, there are the really wonderful words, ones that we use in our liturgy. Words that don’t have a good translation, and nobody knows what they mean.
There are beautiful words, with rich imagery that have taken on some weird meanings in our culture.
Aahhh…. and then there are the polity words. We’ve got millions of them, and we use them frequently (come to think of it, is “polity” one of them?). They’re like a secret handshake in our club. Here are the Presbyterian ones.
Amendment (particularly B)
I’ve used words that I thought everyone knew, and then I’ve found that what I was talking about something particular to a church context, and people from outside of church had no idea what I was saying.
What words do people use in your church/tradition that utterly confound people? What word only gets a workout in church–and nowhere else? What word would you love to get rid of completely? What word do you hate hearing? What should we do about the words? Is it simply part of educating people in our tradition? Or do the words exclude people too much? Should we quit using them? Or, should we keep expecting that only the people who grew up in our church ought to be able to understand what we’re saying? What words do you love? What’s worth saving?
the photo’s of a church door by kritta