When I was a kid my cousins from Italy came to the United States to visit and tour. The largest challenge of their trip was the fact that they did not speak much English and I did not speak any Italian. I did speak Spanish and tried that because of their similarities; however, it was still difficult to carry on a conversation.
If you serve in a church there will always be language barriers. There are words and terms you throw around that would not only confuse a newcomer but your key leaders as well. I’m not just talking about words like pew and transfiguration, what I’m referring to are:
The WORDS and TERMS you use to describe a:
- PROCESS – Is it faith formation, discipleship, or catechize?
- PROGRAM – Do you run programs, ministries, events…classes?
- PERSON – Is it non Christian or unbeliever? Do you have ministers or volunteers?
The purpose for having an internal language is to create efficiency in communication. You create margin because there isn’t time wasted explaining and you’ll create camaraderie because everyone is on the same page. But don’t assume people will just get there, make sure you:
- Reveal Certain Terms: At your next leadership meeting introduce why you say minister instead of volunteer. Inform the team the reasoning, even if it just sounds better.
- Put Language In Memorable Places: Make sure the internal language you use, matches the language in your vision, mission and values. Those are items you want your team memorizing.
- Be Consistent And Commit: If you jump around from term to term you’ll lose your audience. Pick a term or two and commit to it; otherwise, it will never catch on. Granted trends will change what you use and how you use it, but be as consistent as possible.
This is not about being exclusive or how to separate yourself from others, it’s about bringing harmony to your ministry. When we can communicate efficiently and clearly we can make amazing things happen, we just have to make sure we don’t get lost in translation.
What are your thoughts on having an internal language? Share your opinions.