Mind Your Language!

I started to notice my aversion to this kind of talk in ‘deepest, darkest Aberdeen.’ Distasteful language which spoke of something that had failed generations of people in that place, that spoke no hope into anything. Something that filled most people with cynicism, made them critical, filled them with detached disinterest.

You see, there in that place they were into the third generation of adults with little interest or connection with ‘the church’ and so they had nothing good to say about it. It was simply another institution that had failed them: ‘church’ and ‘Christian’ were terms beyond the pale.

I sympathised.

Here in Gosforth things are different. The generation gaps aren’t there so much. The church invests something in the community, but the vestiges of the Christendom legacy hang on in there. Yet, still the problem persists.

The wealthy look on in condescending disinterest in their self-satisfied worlds where religion is the sign if the weak and the church but another country club. For the less-than-rich, just ridicule really…a world of their own detached from the Christian worldview.

The world is tired of ‘church’. It is tired of ‘Christianity’ and certainly suspicious of ‘Christians’. Even in places where it works, where it is remotely meaningful, there is indifference towards the church. People don’t care what happens in our sacred buildings.

I empathise.

I have a growing conviction that, whilst there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the words, ‘Christian’, ‘church’ and ‘Christianity’ they are not the most useful terms. They are loaded terms -negatively loaded terms – for lots of people in our everyday worlds. They can be readily replaced with dull, grey, boring irrelevant.

People are, however, interested in Jesus and God (regardless of their understanding of those names). I wonder if its time to lay the aside for a season…maybe until such times as we can paint a new vision.

Biblically, of course, the ‘Christians’ were only known as such by their critics and were more readily identified as ‘the Way’. Simply, Jesus didn’t start an ‘ianity’ in his name he invited people to follow him, to follow in his Way. Not so much a set of dogma to adhere to, but a lifestyle to live.

People still want that. It is why Buddhism is so popular – they offer a way of life more liveable and life-giving than sometimes the people who follow the one who called himself ‘the Life’ do!

So, I’m changing my language. What difference would it make to our mindset and the mind of the people if we framed our life as being ‘followers of Jesus’. What if instead of speaking if church we speak of ‘the movement Jesus began’.

Well, true. It might not make a huge difference, but I believe it would continue to remind me that our identity is in him and that together we are still seeking to be the continuation of his Kingdom movement.

‘All things to all men…’ – Paul

grace and peace,
Andrew+

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