I was reading an article on jargon overused in business, and I thought about its use in church.
I'm a little torn on this.
On the one hand, I really like that there are specific words that describe things in church settings. On the other, I recognize that these same words can be a barrier for people who are new to our churches.
I'm a bit of a stickler for word usage: for example, between podium and lectern (especially when there's a lectern on the podium). I feel that our increasing use of "epicenter" to mean "center of something big" reduces its utility in describing "the point on the surface above the actual center."
But I'm wondering whether we confuse people when we say "there are sign up sheets in the narthex." Is it really important to say "on the chancel" instead of "on the stage?"
I'm recalling my reaction years ago to a Committee on Ministry member who took my use of the phrase "corporate worship" to mean "traditional church is like a corporation." At the time, I dismissed her for not knowing the term. Now I'm considering whether I was using jargon in a way that obscured my meaning.
What does it mean when we say "theodicy" or "eschatology" in settings where people may not know these words?
When we choose words specific to the church, are we being more precise? Or are we identifying with an exclusive club whose members know the secret code words?
What are your thoughts on church-specific language? What words are important to you? Which are barriers to community?