07 Feb Welcoming the Un-churched to Church: Learning How to Speak
Originally posted on October 8, 2004
“If the bugle doesn’t sound a clear call, how will the soldiers know they are being called to battle? And it’s the same for you. If you talk to people in a language they don’t understand, how will they know what you mean? You might as well be talking to an empty room.” I Corinthians 14:8, NLT
Welcoming the Un-churched to Church: Learning How to Speak
When we pray for un-churched people to come to church and then invite them, they will come. When they do, we must learn how to speak. The most important thing people can hear at church is the message of the gospel. So, we want to make sure that the gospel is what they are hearing, and that they hear it clearly.
Our language at church can actually interfere with the gospel message being heard. The gospel should be the music coming from us, but sometimes muffled and muted sounds do instead.
Here are three kinds of speech that do not help the un-churched when they come to church.
1. Opinionated Speech. It may be hard for us to believe, but not everyone agrees with us on the issues of the day, and we don’t agree with ourselves half the time. Not everyone will vote for our candidate, like our football team, or discipline and educate their kids the way we do. Since we’re dealing with un-churched people, we can’t even assume that they agree with our moral principles. I am not suggesting that we never state our opinion, or that we remain silent on important moral issues. I do suggest that if we become overly opinionated in settings where the gospel is to be the central message, we may become a distraction to others who need to hear it.
2. Religious Speech. Several years ago, a group of techno geeks were talking to me in their own language- you know, tech speech. I didn’t understand a word they said! I told them that if they didn’t stop, I would preach my next sermon using as many big theological words as I could and see if they understood me. This experience reminded me that not everyone understands religious language, so if we use it, we should explain it in a way that does not embarrass the un-churched.
3. Critical Speech. Does this even need to be said? Critical speech causes regular church- goers to stumble and miss the message of the gospel, how much more so for the un-churched. Negativity distracts the mind and kills the spirit. Criticism competes with Christ. The un-churched need to hear about Jesus. Let’s deal with complaints in the hearing of those who can actually help. Let everyone else hear the gospel.
So, what kind of speech welcomes the un-churched to church? Speech that includes the un-churched. Speech that is clear for the un-churched. Speech that is full of grace.
“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word that will encourage others at the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.”