bad words

I think words matter. 

Have you seen the car commercials where a mom is driving her minivan late at night in the pouring rain when she narrowly avoids an accident?  She looks back and sees her children sleeping peacefully.  She’s relieved.  The implication that the advertiser is going for is that the quality of your ride matters because its cargo matters.  It carries something valuable. 

The same is true of words.  Whatever our message, words transmit it.  We want people to know that they matter to God?  Words will have a part to play in carrying that meaning.

Some of you might object.  “Jason, seriously… everyone knows we’re moving to an image based society.  Words are SO thirty years ago.”  (I imagine you with a valley girl accent when you say it.) 

But your church service is still packed full of lots and lots and lots of words... in the sermon, in the songs you sing, in the dramas you perform, in the congregational prayers, in the videos you produce…  So is your website, I imagine, along with most other media you use to carry your message. 

The problem is that many of us use bad words on a regular basis.  Not the four letter variety, but words that aren’t fit to carry their cargo.

There isn’t a better example than the word ‘Christian’.  We can talk ‘Christian’ until we’re blue in the face, but I’m not sure the people we’re talking to hear what we want them to hear.  I’m not sure it carries the meaning we want it to carry.  We say ‘Christian’ and they hear ‘American’ or ‘Republican’ or ‘safe’ or ‘anti-gay’ or ‘judgmental’ or ‘naïve’.  ‘Christian’ is a bad word in my book.  At GCC you’re more likely to hear the word ‘Christ-follower’ because we think it does a better job of carrying the meaning we intend.

But this isn’t a post about the word ‘Christian’ (although you really should read this book.  Seriously.  All of you.)  It’s the beginning of an ongoing conversation I’d like to have about the words we use and why they matter.  ‘Christian’ is just an example.

Later this week, a few bad words I’m trying to avoid these days, and why.