In today’s reading from 1 Corinthians 14, Paul spends a lot of time talking about how we need to pay attention to what we are doing in our church gatherings.  In particular, we need to pay attention to what we say.  Earlier, in Chapter 12, Paul talks about different gifts of the Spirit.  Among the gifts listed is the gift of speaking in tongues and the gift of prophecy.  In Chapter 14, Paul focuses on the importance of speaking so that others can understand.  In this way, we are more likely to build up the church, than by speaking in tongues.  And the reason that he gives is important for us to pay attention to in today’s church as well.

Even so, if unbelievers or people who don’t understand these things come into your church meeting and hear everyone speaking in an unknown language, they will think you are crazy. But if all of you are prophesying, and unbelievers or people who don’t understand these things come into your meeting, they will be convicted of sin and judged by what you say.  As they listen, their secret thoughts will be exposed, and they will fall to their knees and worship God, declaring, “God is truly here among you” (1 Cor 14:23-25).

What are we doing in our churches today that will not connect with those who may come in on a Sunday morning – those who are unbelievers, who we are trying to reach with the message of the risen Christ?  Why do we gather to worship?  Are we there for our own benefit, or are we there for something else?  Ultimately, I believe, our goal in worship is to lift up the name of Jesus, to praise God, to be challenged to grow in our faith, and to introduce people to the community of faith.  I don’t think there is a lot of room for insider language when it comes to worship.  Sayings things like, “Everybody knows this song;” or “Let’s have our visitors stand up an introduce themselves;” or “this is going to take place in the old Boy Scout room” – that’s insider language.  As somebody visiting a church for the first time (or visiting any church for the first time), things like this can make them feel awkward and out of place – and they already feel like that by just showing up in the first place.

So, what can you do to get rid of insider language in your church?  How can we be more conscious of ways to be more welcoming as a church?

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