April 10, 2007

Jibberish

Tonight I had to get my taxes done!

While filling out the paper work, the lady asked if I had filled out some form. She rattled off the numbers, but I just looked at her because I didn't understand tax-person talk.

Earlier today I had to call an electrician about some work that needs to be done on the house we are purchasing. He asked if the house had something, but, again, I didn't know what he was talking about because I don't speak electrician.

A friend of mine, Brian, and I have this thing where I say something to describe the technology, use all the wrong "stats" to describe it, and, in all his geekness, rattles off the correct information.

I was editing a piece for our church today, and noticed a phrase that was used. The phrase might be understood by insiders at the church, but most people wouldn't understand it. They might even think it was weird.

Why are all these observations important? Because in all areas of life we need someone who knows and speaks all the complicated, discipline specific language, but we don't want to speak it.

In the realm of computers, I don't know how to write software programs. I don't know how to keep my screen from going blue (though some say a Mac would solve that!). I don't know all the ins and outs of the computer. I just want it to work. But when I talk to someone who loves computers, it is hard to get them to speak English to tell me how to solve the problem or to describe what they did to make it stop flashing.

For a good example:


When it comes to the church and theology, I think most people just want to know how it works. They look at you with a blank face when you talk about predestination, millenialism, emergent, Arminian, or whatever theological boat you are floating in. They are interested in how to know God better and how to be a better person, and they want it in English.

I love theology. I love discussing the intricacies of theological variations. But I can't let my love of theology distract me from helping people take their next step toward God. How we talk about God can help or hinder people on their spiritual journey. We need to watch our language.

I used to think I could help people become more educated theologically, and I was wrong. All I got were blank stares. One of the things that helped me correct my uses of language was to take my theological education and teach the concepts to teenagers. If I couldn't say it so they understood it, then I wasn't doing what I needed to do.

As the spiritual leader of the congregation, we have the responsibility to help people grow closer to God. We are NOT trying to sound academic or smart. If we fail to help people understand the depths of God (as much as we know) in language they understand then we have failed.

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