Friday, July 20, 2012

Call it What It Is and Keep the Language Simple

I remember seeing a job posting and it read this way:  Remuneration commensurate with experience.”  I thought; why not simply say “pay based upon experience.”  That would have been too easy.  People like to say things that sound profound, professional, or creative, even if they don’t make much sense to the reader.

When we were making signage for our children’s ministry, I resisted the idea of using cute, but obscure names.  The problem is that nobody knows what “Wamba-Land” is, or “Megaville” or “Jam City” or “Power House.”  We just call ours PCC Kids because everybody knows what that means, even a first time guest.

You can call your website an “interactive web experience”, but most people are still going to call it a website.  You can call an oil change something creative like an “engine performance maintenance”, but the rest of us will still call it an oil change.

You can call it “soteriology” but almost nobody knows what that means because it doesn’t appear in English translations of the Bible.  Instead, just say “salvation” or “study of the doctrine of salvation.” People get that.  I don’t use the word “eschatology” either because it’s unfamiliar to most.  The term “end time events” is what people understand.

The point here is that simple or familiar is usually better.  You can spend time agonizing over cute phrases, neat sounding words, or complex sentences with lengthy schemes of logic, but if you’d just call it what it is more people will understand and be drawn in.

That’s why I’m in favor calling Sunday worship “church services” because that’s a term that most people know.  When we call them “gatherings” or “experiences” or “holy convocations” on the front end, we have to take time to explain what that means and it costs us clarity.

Do we want to impress people or influence them?

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