Does your wording alienate newcomers?

Steve Kryger

Imagine you know nothing about Christianity. Imagine your child has been invited along to a 'youth group' (whatever that is). You want to find out a little more about this group. You do a quick Google search for the youth group, find the website, and read this:

"X [name removed] Youth Group aims to raise steadfast disciples of Jesus who are equipped to correctly handle the word of God and reach out to their peers with God’s life transforming message of grace. We want to see young people built up to raise other disciples who can make other disciples. We want to see young people raised up with a passion to reach the lost and a focus that reaches across the world."

If I read this description, any number of questions might come to mind. For example:

  • Does it cost money?
  • Are you welcome to go if you don't want to be/aren't already a disciple of Jesus?
  • What is a disciple of Jesus?!

The wording on this page only makes sense to someone who has a high familiarity with Christianity, and alienates anyone who doesn't. Worse still, it communicates that people who aren't familiar with Christianity aren't welcome to come (which I'm sure couldn't be further from the truth!). If newcomers are welcome (or 'guests' as Kem Meyer proposes), I'm becoming convinced that this should be explicitly explained. We can't assume that people know that they are welcome at church. Here's another example, that's far more newcomer-friendly:

"We meet on Friday nights during school term at the church - term 2 kicks off on Friday 2 May. During our meetings we get to know each other and build friendships through fun activities, sharing food together and tackling the big questions of life by exploring the message of the Bible.This term we’ll be looking at what it means to be part of community."

I'm scheduling in a review of all the pages on my church's website, to read them through from the perspective of someone who knows nothing about Christianity or the church. Perhaps you can do the same.