My wife and I enjoy watching detective mysteries, the kind where we try to figure out who did what to whom, before the hero does. Those from England/Australia rank high.
Sadly, for multiple reasons, a Sunday mystery hour happens live before the eyes of many. No television or movie channel access is needed; this mystery is aired live, in thousands of church services worldwide. No signup necessary, for this mystery is found in the hour+-long services being led by many pastors.
I say mystery because many who attend these services are either unchurched, or come from a completely different background than what they’re checked out. To use a restaurant analogy, the menu being offered is in a language foreign to the guest.
Generally speaking-and regardless of intent-so much of what’s being said in our Sunday services is geared to those already familiar with words and phrases used by pastors and other leaders. In short, the unchurched and those from mainline denominational backgrounds don’t speak our lingo. It is, in part or in whole, a mystery to them.
We in churches need to do a better job of keeping things simple. ” Can’t you feel the Presence of God, this morning?” may register with “regulars” but confuse guests. What if they don’t “feel” God? Are they, then, unspiritual or in sin? I know what some mean by that but, at the same time, God’s in service with me all the time, because He’s in me-whether I “feel” Him or not. The same is true concerning my liver, which I’ve never “felt.”
New people checking out your church aren’t stupid; they’re hungry for something not found on the menu of traditional restaurants. Their appetite has changed; not so the menu. Worship leaders, pastors, and others in the public eye need to realize that not everyone understands what they take for granted. Trying to learn “Christianese” takes a lot of time, something those new to contemporary settings may not be willing to take.
Let’s not use high-sounding phrases as a means of appearing super spiritual to newcomers. Jesus always spoke using terms common to most people. Parables centered around corn, wheat, mustard seeds, fish, and bread-things people readily understood. Even the Apostle Paul, a former Pharisee, used simple words in his preaching,
With pretty good results, I’d say.
There’s a time and a place to explain deeper meanings found in Scripture. Using my previous analogy of a restaurant, simplifying our menus will bring more hungry “customers” into our midst. Doing so can help take the mystery out of Sunday services.