All my working life, I worked with computers, from using punched cards to program old computers, all the way to building this website. So, I have experienced computer jargon most of my life.
It made me think, do we have the same problem of jargon with Christianity? An example that came to mind is when Christians say that ‘Christ died for their sins’. This phrase is a central testimony for many Christians. But if you try and put yourself in the position of someone with little knowledge of Christian theology, then you realise that phrase will be complete gobbledygook to them.
Not that I’m saying jargon is bad. Between people that understand it, it can be a great shorthand and aid communication. But in my job, I always had to be aware of my audience when talking to people or writing reports and avoid jargon that they may not understand.
Similarly, I believe we have to be aware that we may slip into Christian jargon without realising it. It is essential that when we share our message, we do it in terms that people will understand. Our message has to be relevant. This might actually help us, because to do this, we will have to focus on what our faith really means to us.
It was an interesting exercise for me in creating our ‘About Us’ page. I wonder if I have succeeded in limiting the jargon, only you can tell. Similarly if I am preparing a worship, I want it to be understandable and relevant.
I always remember a story someone told me. Following a church service, a lady went up to the minister and said, ‘your sermon reminded me of the peace and mercy of God’. The minister was pleased with her comment until she went on to explain. ‘Yes, it was like his peace that passes all understanding and his mercy that endures forever’. Whenever I am preparing a service or writing content for this website, I always picture this lady trying to make sense of what I say.
We need to think about how we communicate our message, we need to make it understandable and relevant. What do you think?