This is a Repost from March 2018. I’ve been thinking a lot about evangelization and communication lately, so this reminder that when we use “insider” language, we aren’t inviting people into the community. So enjoy this still relevant re-post from almost 2 years ago.
Are you speaking “Inside Catholic Baseball” in your Parish Communications?
As a kid I loved going to Pirate games at the old Three Rivers Stadium with my family. It was time I was able to spend with my older brother. I spent the entire game asking questions. What’s RBI stand for? Why is their average .101? Is that good or bad? What happens with the ball goes over that yellow line? Why do we only stretch during the 7th inning? I learned a lot. There is a special language to Baseball.
Have you ever been the new person to a group of people? They tell a story or share a joke that cracks them up while you stand beside them having no idea what’s going on. One person started telling a story and the other person began laughing before the story was even over and you were all alone on the outside. Oh, the plight of the “inside joke”! It makes those who don’t know what’s happening feel like an outsider. There is a special language to friends.
As Catholics we have a special language too. If you look at your parish bulletin, you’ll see it all throughout, I’m sure. We use words that people who aren’t “all-in” have no idea what they mean. Even many of your “regulars” don’t know what all the words mean, they just smile and nod.
For instance, if someone comes into the office and says, “I’d like to learn more about becoming Catholic.” They are most often greeted with, “You should join RCIA.” The seeker looks at you with a face that says, “I have no idea what you just said.”
Matthew Kelly started using the phrase “Best Version of Yourself” years ago in all of his writing and workshops for the term “Universal Call to Holiness.” Why? Because he found when he said “Universal Call to Holiness” people’s eyes glazed over since they had no idea what that was or that it applied to their lives. However, when he said “Best Version of Yourself” and called people to spend time in silence, go to confession more often than they wash their cars, and attend Mass every week, they started doing those things and it transformed their lives.
We need to teach people what these “Inside Catholic Baseball” terms mean so they can begin being transformed by their beauty, but as stewards we need to make sure our communication is in line with our value of Hospitality. We have to explain them though and not assume that everyone knows what they mean or that they will ‘someday catch on’ if we use it enough.
What words are “Inside Catholic Baseball”? Beautiful words, with rich with meaning like: Consubstantial, RCIA, Transubstantiation, Stewardship, Penitential, Almsgiving, Kerygma, Mystagogy, even Diocese and Bishop.
As we get ready for Ash Wednesday, re-vamp your communication to be in line with your strong value of Hospitality so those on the ‘outside’ at your parish have an opportunity to walk to the deep end through the shallow water!