Stop confusing people with insider language.
Church leaders as a rule are creative people, and we often get caught in our own web of creativity. We dream up ministry concepts and church programs, and in order to make it shine just right, we want to give the creation the perfect, clever, creative name. Alternatively, church leaders use acronyms to name areas, events or programs in the church. Both of these approaches create confusion.
Here are some thoughts on why you should simplify terminology in your church.
1. Confusing terminology creates a hurdle between your guests and your congregation.People who are coming into your congregation want to know if they belong with your tribe. Confusing terminology presents the image that there are insiders who “get it” and everyone else are outsiders.
2. Confusing terminology disrupts assimilation. New members in the congregation want more than anything to fit in and become fully integrated members. Cute names and acronyms become a reminder that new members are still “rookies” and not full members of the congregation.
3. Confusing terminology works against your communications. Speakers and writers have to work around the clever names or the acronyms when communicating information and this works against clear, simple communication. The energy spent explaining these words could better be spent communicating the essential information.
4. Acronyms are easily misinterpreted (and reinterpreted). When people do not know the meaning of the acronym, they will begin creating their own meanings. As a former student minister, trust me when I tell you this is not a good thing. Sometimes people will make their best guess and get it wrong. Sometimes people will simply take delight in making up their own meanings that serve to erode your credibility.
5. Figure out what it is and call it that. Imagine the conversation that you have to have in order to explain what something is. “The luncheon will be held in the FLC.” “What’s the FLC?” “The Family Life Center.” “And that is what?” “The gym.” “Oh!” Figure out what it is and then do as best as you can to name it what it is. This example can be used to designate areas of your facility, publications, ministry programs, minister titles and more.
Recently, we started sending out daily email updates to our congregation in order to update people on prayer needs and any breaking news. A conversation started over what we would call this. “The Belton Blast,” “The E-vangelist,” and other names were thrown out. I thought about the confusion we were building and suggested calling it the Daily Update.
It is a small thing to be sure, but it speaks to the passion to be inclusive rather than exclusive. Every little thing counts to create a certain culture in your congregation. Simple terminology is an intentional decision to make it easy for people to belong, to assimilate and to communicate. In short, it is a healthy choice for your congregation.
What is the most confusing name you have heard at a