16 Nov Making Visitors Not Feel Like Outsiders
We lifetime churchgoers have our own lingo, with inside-the-Bible-Beltway terminology seldom used beyond the church walls. And some words, though they get used in the secular world, adopt a slightly different connotation when used in a church context. We all know that, but ingrained speech habits are hard to break.
Last Friday I attended a Communications workshop at Granger Community Church. Since they focus laser-like on unchurched people, they force themselves to use language which the world understands. Now, I don’t think it’s worthwhile to get too uptight about this stuff, but it is worthwhile to be sensitive to it. So, here are some terms they avoid at Granger, and how they replace them.
|Churchy Word||Replace With…|
|Target||Guest or visitor|
|Go deeper||Next step|
|Foyer or vestibule||Lobby|
I was reminded of this a few months ago when I attended a funeral at a Lutheran church. They used terms like “chancel” that weren’t part of my church experience, and I felt like an outsider. Yes, I was an outsider. But a church shouldn’t remind someone of that. We need to help people feel comfortable, find ways to put them in their comfort zone. As Kem Meyer said in the workshop, a person’s comfort zone may be behind a cup of coffee or sitting in front of multimedia. But much of what we do in churches does not make an outsider feel comfortable. We don’t inflict this discomfort intentionally; we’re not thoughtless or cruel. We just keep stumbling into our familiar ruts, and kinda forget where other people are.
Thinking about the words we use is a nice start in helping visitors feel comfortable in our midst.