In my years at Good Shepherd, I have gotten excited about new projects, taken us on different tangents, and been hesitant to reinforce the same few ideas time and time again. For the sake of creativity or spontaneity, I have often neglected core principles.
Fortunately, the process that led to the adoption of
Inviting All Persons Into A Living Relationship With Jesus Christ
has helped to change all that. Assisted by our friends at the Auxano Group, I was finally able to see how clear & consistent language reinforces a church’s culture. In particular, just when leadership tires of saying something (the mission statement, for example) is about the time congregation as a whole starts to comprehend it.
So we repeat the mission again. And again. And again. At every staff meeting, at every Worship Gathering, in every Life Group, as part of every Serve Team, and on every Radical Impact Project. In short order, people know what we are doing — inviting all people into a living relationship with Jesus Christ — and how we are doing it — worship gatherings, Life Groups, Serve Teams, and Radical Impact Projects.
I see the power of this relentless pursuit of language most clearly in the reaction of new people to our church. Just this week, for example, we received an email from a man who has attended three times. After telling us what the experience has meant to him, he asked for help in two areas: how to connect to a Life Group and how to join a Serve Team. He’s not even aware of it, but his spiritual journey is being guided by the same language that shapes our church. To many eyes that may seem like a small victory, but we on staff celebrated as we read those words.
The relentless pursuit of language takes on heightened significance as we go multi-lingual. That’s why our initial Good Shepherd Latino service began with a reminder that we are about invitado todos personas a un relacion vida con jesucristo. And why the church bulletin for that community adopts our tag line: Venga A La Vida . . . Come To Life.
And it’s why the title of the sermon I’m going to deliver at that service in a couple of weeks — yes, all in Spanish though I expect some help from the crowd! — is called Un Relacion Vida, meaning, as you might suspect, A Living Relationship.
So we may be talking in two different tongues now at Good Shepherd, but we’re speaking the same language. Relentlessly so.