I could have sworn that I recently wrote a post on this subject but I can’t find it, so here goes again. It has to do with flat earth speak.
We just wrapped up our annual diocesan clergy conference at which it one person said that he thought when non believers hear our churchspeak language they hear “flat earth.” It’s true. We speak first century Greek using English words in phrases heavily influenced by the High Middle Ages, Renaissance, Reformation and Enlightenment. I don’t think that is bad, but we need to face facts. It’s a strange and mysterious language that does not seem to resonate well with the latest hit on MTV, anything in People Magazine, life on the street or the popular understanding of science.
The mainline churches in my community that have tried to do something about that have failed in two ways. Some of them come off as a bunch of old people trying to be cool by using music and words at least a decade out of style. Others have made a genuine offering to the young in their language only to become little more than concert venues under thin veneers of barely visible Christian formation.
Oddly enough, I believe that the best job of translating our Greek churchspeak into language intelligible to the modern non believer has come from the pastor of one of the local Roman Catholic parishes, and the young new rector of my former parish. When I think about it, neither of them is deliberate about trying to appeal to youth per se. Instead, they are adept at using the ordinary language of the day to open up the depth of meaning hidden in churchspeak, and they are very clear about breaking down the artificial barriers between faith and science.
What I would really like to hear is your take on all of this.