When I was first learning to write in elementary school, I remember learning about parts of speech. There were nouns – persons, places, things or ideas; verbs – action words; and adjectives – words that describe. Adjectives were the parts of language that made everything more vivid; you didn’t technically have to have them but they added new dimensions to communication.
In thinking about hype, one of the ways that we allow hype to get into our churches is in the adjectives we use. I’m as guilty of it as anyone else. We have exciting new ministries. We have powerful worship services. We have creative, inspiring, and insightful sermons. We have life-changing songs. Really? Really?
It’s part of the continual push to be newer and better. We might not believe it, but with our rhetoric we’re saying: “Those old ministries are passé, check out these new exciting ministries!” “Those old churches are staid and boring, we’re relevant!” And even if it were true, even if the new things were ten-times more exciting and creative, it doesn’t do us much good in the long run anyway. Why? Because the only people who really care if things are that much more exciting are Christians who already go to other houses of worship who want to be a part of the newest, the latest, the greatest thing.
It’s just too much.
What if we saved the word exciting for things that are truly exciting like the Gospel or a new church being planted or someone returning to the church after years away or a baptism or a first communion? That’s exciting. It is exciting to know that my sins, though they are countless, are not counted against me. It is exciting to know that the Holy Spirit is active in my life, uniting me to Christ. It is exciting to see hearts that were once dead in sin like mine made alive in Christ. The Gospel should be what truly excites us – not a bunch of promotional junk surrounding yet another church program.
The greatest singer in rock and roll
Would have to be Romeo
His vocal chords are made of gold
He just looks a little too old
Wilco, “The Late Greats”
I pray that my church (and I) would never get to the point that the Gospel just “looks a little too old”.