Jesus said “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you”. (Matthew 7:12). I’d like us to look at our church services and see how they measure up to that rule.
How would I want to be treated if I joined a secular organisation? A local community group perhaps? Well, obviously, I would like to be greeted warmly. Many churches have members who are good at that. OK so far. But then what? Well, I’d like to understand what people were saying. I’d like to understand what was going on. These things are obvious. Would I like to be suddenly part of activities that I didn’t understand? Would I like to be hearing words and phrases I’d never heard before and had no idea what they meant? What would I do if nobody took the time to explain these things to me? Would I come back?
Our church services are, very often, full of practices and language that newcomers would not understand. We use a lot of jargon. To make it even worse, in many churches, (including my own) some of it is even 17th Century jargon, or even older jargon. (For example, the word “Gospel” is used to translate a Greek New Testament word that means “good news”. “Gospel” is an ancient English word that means “good news”. It hasn’t been in common usage for about 1000 years. So why not just say “good news”? It’s the best possible translation of the Greek word used by the New Testament writers, and everyone who speaks English today understands it.)
Jesus wants us to love others. Should we love others by explaining the practices, words and phrases that we use in our services? Or should we love others by getting rid of those practices, words and phrases, and adopting practices and language that they would understand without explanation?
We are called, by Jesus, to serve others. Do we fail to serve those who are looking for a right relationship with God by our selfishness in sticking with practices and language which are comfortable for us, but incomprehensible to them?
Jesus is Lord!