My parents recently attended the memorial service for a long-time friend of our family. As we FaceTimed with them last night, my mom was sharing a great story about how she was singing at the church the night this man came to faith in Jesus.
This is how the conversation went down:
My Mom: “… so we realized that I was at the church the night he went forward.”
Elli (7) – “He went bald?”
Jenna – “No he got out of the pew and went forward down the isle.”
Elli – “He fell forward—what’s a pew?”
Mom, Jenna, and Dan: *bent over laughing and feeling ancient*
And why would she know what “pews” are or what it means to “go forward”? She’s never been in a kids environment where they had chairs for large group. She’s never attended a church where there were pews in the main auditorium.
These vocabulary words and phrases that once were crucial to how you talked about what happens at church are virtually obsolete, save for a nostalgic story or a decent find at an antique market.
When you attempt to Refine the Message, choosing the right word, idiom, or colloquial phrase is important. What you say this month, might not be cool to say next week and might garner empty stares a year from now. Choosing the right word every single time is hard work yet absolutely necessary if we want kids to understand the message.
Jenna eventually was able to help Elli understand that Mr. Taylor put his faith in Jesus and was rescued. Jenna refined the message using words familiar to Elli.
We laughed, but at the same time we once again realized the importance of words when we talk to our 21st-Century kids about Jesus.