A lot of church leaders like to toss around the latest churchy language. I suspect they’re trying to sound “with it.” Unfortunately, some of this trendy lingo may reveal more about being “out of it” than “with it.”
The lingo fads come and go, fertilized by high-profile ministry people on the speaking and writing circuit. Their fans re-use the language in order to sound as cool as their heroes.
But some of the current terms are confusing. And others contribute to church leaders seeming out of touch with regular people. Let’s sample a bit of the lexicon.
“Campus.” Regular people understand this to be the sprawling grounds of a university. But church leaders use this term to describe their church property. I’ve even heard church staff refer to their little building on a tiny lot as “our campus.” Makes me laugh.
“Marketplace.” Church leaders like to use this term to describe everybody who doesn’t work in a church. Hint: Regular people in the “marketplace” don’t use that term to describe themselves—including those who work in government, education, health, non-profits, etc., etc.
“Student ministry.” They used to call it youth ministry. But that’s no longer cool. The use of “student” in this context is confusing. Regular people understand “student” to mean anyone who attends school—from kindergarten through graduate school.
“Communicator.” I’ve gathered that this is reserved for preachers who know how to entertain a crowd and tell jokes really well. The other, more average preachers are, I guess, “non-communicators.”
“Message.” They don’t want to admit they preach sermons anymore. So they’ve come up with a kinder, gentler word for those 20- or 30- or 40-minute lectures. But everybody knows they just sat through a sermon. Nobody is fooled by the cosmetic label.
The pervasive use of these terms, and many more, suggests to me that some church leaders need to spend a lot more time with regular people.