Silly Words and How They Have Helped Me

WorshipOutloud-GraphicSome people like to make up words. Maybe they like to noun verbs, or verb adjectives—maybe they like to mash words together or add a suffix as necessary as a worshipster’s scarf.

I have found some of these new words to be helpful and others not so much. I have noticed that some people are quick to embrace them while others seem to have trouble holding back their gag reflex as they call for their friends to gang up and jump on the mock pile.

Here are some thoughts on a few of the silly words:

Incarnational – In the incarnation God took on flesh and became one of us, it was the ultimate act of selfless love. This word is a reminder that I am to follow Him and love people, be Christlike, live in the world but not of the world. I am to help my brother and sister with their burden, become all things to all people, and minister to those I come across even if it seems like I will get dirty helping them. Yes, there is a sense that this turns the Gospel into Law, I call it Lawspel, but it’s really just a metaphor to help me understand one aspect of WWJD.

Missional – If a pastor says his church is “missional” then he is hoping for his people to be “on mission.” He wants his congregation to understand they are called to minister to the community where they live. The mission of the church doesn’t stop at the exit sign, it begins there.

Glocal – A mashup of global and local. It is an attempt to raise the awareness of how the internet and other technology has made it a smaller world after all. I find the word to be as annoying as the Disney song.

Sacramental – Sacraments are the mysterious ordinances instituted by Jesus where common things are united with God’s Word by the power of the Spirit and become means of grace. Protestants recognize two sacraments and Roman Catholics have seven. Some people will read my definition of “sacrament” carefully looking for a way to disagree with me—those are the people who don’t like the word “sacramental.” The word is a metaphor to remind us that God uses common people united with His Word by the power of the Spirit to offer grace and forgiveness. God uses imperfect people “sacramentally” as a result of the sacraments Jesus instituted, they are not equivalent.

Lutheranal – I made this one up to be silly and to remind us that we might be Lutheran but don’t have to take ourselves so seriously.

Entrepreneur – This is a real word but people think it’s silly to use it in the church because it is from the corporate world. I don’t care for it either but it’s meant to be a reminder of how the Apostles started new churches and reached new believers by taking Spirit-led risks. Another funny sounding extra-Biblical word is “urinal” and I am glad most churches don’t employ the regulative principle on it.

Contemporvant – A mashup of “contemporary” and “relevant” from a Northpoint video where they poke fun of themselves. It has become a codeword to remember that made up words can be silly. It is also a good reminder of how it’s not good to mock sacred things because in mocking them we give the Enemy ammunition to hurt God’s people and tear us apart. No matter what our church’s worship looks like, once we see it cleverly torn down in a parody it can be hard to take seriously again.

Sometimes new words help make familiar things strange in a good way, and sometimes they just make things strange. Some people find them to be helpful and others think they are silly but all of God’s people should be unified in the truths they are pointing to.

Let us hear each other’s words with grace. May we put the best construction on the silly things we hear each other say. May we live at peace with one another in as much as it depends on us.