Saturday, November 8, 2008

When in Rome?

At the conference this past week, I had a chance to meet Michael Francese, a former mob boss who came to Christ. I first heard of him through an interview on the Jim Rome show, my favorite sports talk show. Michael and I shot the breeze about how we were both Jim Rome fans, and he told me how Jim is always calling him, and how he would be back on the show in March to promote his new book. So yes, God is using even Jim Rome to help build His Kingdom. Apparently he did the same with Josh Hamilton and his new book.

Anyhow, not everyone is a fan of Jim Rome. I was talking with some folks in my community group about Rome the other day. They were definitely not fans, and they brought up the most common complaint leveled against him. Much of Rome's show comprises inside jokes he and his fans (called "clones") will mention when they email or call the show. If one is not aware of these terms or jokes, he (and sometimes she-there are female listeners), will simply listen to something else. Yet Rome tells people to "give my show a chance" and to commit to listen for a time, and then make an informed decision.

The thing about Rome is that he is very popular, and on in a ton of different markets from California to Florida to all over Canada. So he will not change his approach to inside jokes or jargon. He can get away with it.

The church, however, really cannot afford to use inside jokes and jargon. Inside or outside the proverbial walls. There is just too much at stake. Even if we could, it would not be very loving. We might find it interesting/challenging to reflect on our conversations for a while to see if they really exclude rather than include and bring people into the next level of deeper fellowship. It is at this next level, that they may be open to hearing jokes and understanding jargon. But we cannot operate by Rome's methods and use such jokes and jargon on the front end and expect to build deeper relationships within and outside the church.

The hardest part for me is that "inside joking" is so stinkin' fun. It really is. And I think it does have a place in certain company, when everyone is on the "inside." But I do need to be reminded where haphazard use of it has alienated people from specific relationships and even entire ministries.


Gus/Adri said...

Agree with inside jokes use, and it's common among evangelicals to use what I can best describe as jargon, including the use of archaic language in public prayer -- but maybe this just a generational idiosyncrasy or a product of habit.

Geoffsnook said...


I think you're right about much of what we say being primarily a product of habit. That's really the point. Most of it isn't done with a malicious heart with the intent of exclusion. But since exclusion is often the result, I think we ought to think a bit more seriously about who our audience is.

I was thinking of relational settings, not really about public prayer. However, I do think you bring up a good point. Yet it is not just archaic language but newer stuff, like Keller's terms. I need not assume everyone is familiar with his terms.

The other day a long time church member informed me that he/she wasn't familiar with the use of "idol" for intangible stuff like security, fame, success, etc...He/she knew somewhat of what I meant, but it challenged me to think through how to express things more clearly.

TulipGirl said...

Oooh, well said.