Why You May Need to Start Watering Down Your Messages
Watered Down Coffee
No one likes watered down coffee or diluting something valuable. That can be what it feels like at times when we try to market what the church offers to the unchurched. This can cause some to wonder if the modern church is just using bait and switch tactics to get more people in the door. Is being relevant the same thing as compromising the gospel for a bigger audience?
Finding the best way to speak to an outsider with insider information is not watering down or dumbing down the gospel. It smartening up to bridge the gap between those who do not yet speak our language but also need what we have to offer. This is what I call speaking the language of a church planter.
1,000 songs in your pocket
“Apple did not invent the mp3 player but is credited for revolutionizing the music industry with it. Creative Technology did that 22 months ahead of time and had much more experience in digital sound. They are the reason we have sound on our computers. So what happened? Creative Technology advertised an mp3 player with 5GB of memory while Apple marketed 1,000 songs in your pocket. The “what” is 5GB of data. The “why” is you want 5GB of data is because it allows you to take 1,000 songs wherever you go. This is why you “start with why.”–Paraphrased from Start with Why, by Simon Sinek.
Is it possible that we need to stop getting discouraged by people not wanting our 5 gigabytes of data when they have no idea what we are talking about? Repeating the same thing over and over that people don’t know they need is frustrating on both ends. Instead, we need to let them know about the fantastic opportunity they have to get 1,000 songs in their pocket.
Speak Their Language
Jesus used the language of the day. He spoke in terms an ordinary person could understand. Our goal isn’t to continue using the same cultural comparisons as Jesus and write off anyone who doesn’t “get it.” Instead, we should use Jesus’ example of sharing Kingdom principles in a way that is relevant to this current generation of people.
Speaking the language of a church planter is to bring eternal truths into everyday vernacular. The truth doesn’t change, and neither does the power of the name of Jesus. How we deliver the truth of Jesus’ message to people far from God needs to change as the culture, and standard practices evolve over time. We need to speak our truth in their language.
Insider language is not the enemy either. It’s a massive help in connecting and communicating with other insiders. If our goal is to reach outsiders though, then when that opportunity is in front of us to speak them (Sunday Morning for example) we need to be creative and committed to doing everything we can to get them that life preserver of truth.
One practical way church planters can do this is to market to people’s felt needs. We know the answer, but all they are aware of is the problem. Letting people know that the Church is there to serve them will lead to them serving God. Making them a priority gives us the opportunity to share the Good News that will allow them the chance to make God their priority.