Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Buzz Words

You've all heard them... whether it's popular culture or in the church, words and phrases come into use and suddenly everyone's using them. Then overusing them... like a Led Zeppelin song. Kinda makes you wonder if anyone ever thinks at all.

Remember "EXTREME"? I used to get ads from every conceivable quarter of the youth ministry world trying to get me to go to EXTREME SUMMER CAMP or EXTREME BIBLE CONFERENCE or EXTREME JESUS LOVING COMPASSION MINISTRIES. Or how about "In His Grip"? Everyone was signing their e-mails with that one for awhile.

It seems a little shallow to me. We get into cliches and sloganeering and stop thinking about where terms originated from and the theology behind them.

I ran across a pretty funny list from an old issue of Leadership magazine today, and thought I'd share it with you all:

Which buzzword will be the first so overused that it's meaningless?
  • Missional
  • Formation
  • Community
  • Journey
  • Resonate
  • Emerging
  • Authentic
  • Narrative
  • Metanarrative
  • Story (your, my, our)
  • Visioning
  • Revisioning
  • Vision Casting
  • Christ-Follower

How do you know a buzzword is past its prime?
  • When your denomination creates a division promoting it.
  • When Chuck Colson writes a column condemning it.
  • When your mother gives you a magazine titled that word plus "Today".
  • When your board adds it to your job description.
  • When Baptist Press uses it in a headline.
  • When it gets its own website at

Aren't Christians funny people sometimes?

Friday, March 7, 2008

A Plea for Fishing

Don't take this personally... I found it in some old notes. It's from an old-school Mennonite pastor in Scottsdale, PA.

Even if there are features you disagree with, take to heart the point of the parody.

A Plea for Fishing
Is a person a fisherman if year after year he never catches any fish?

Now it came to pass that a group existed who called themselves fishermen. And lo, there were many fish in the waters all around. In fact the whole area was surrounded by streams and lakes filled with fish. And the fish were hungry.

Week after week, month after month, and year after year, these, who called themselves fishermen met in meetings and talked about their call to fish, the abundance of fish, and how they might go about fishing. Year after year they carefully defined what fishing means, defended fishing as an occupation, and declared that fishing is always to be a primary task of fishermen.

Continually they searched for new and better methods of fishing and for new and better definitions of fishing. Further they said, “The fishing industry exists by fishing as fire exists by burning.” They love slogans such as “Fishing is the task of every fisherman,” “Every fisherman is a fisher,” and “A fisherman’s outpost for every fisherman’s club.” They sponsored special meetings called “Fisherman’s Campaigns” and “The Month for Fishermen to Fish.” They sponsored costly nationwide and worldwide congresses to discuss fishing and to promote fishing and to hear about all the ways of fishing such as new fishing equipment, fish calls, and whether any new bait was discovered.

These fishermen built large, beautiful buildings called “Fishing Headquarters”. The plea was that everyone should be a fisherman and every fisherman should fish. One thing they didn’t do, however, they didn’t fish.

In addition to meeting regularly they organized a board to send out fishermen to other places where there were many fish. All the fishermen seemed to agree that what is needed is a board which could challenge fishermen to be faithful in fishing. This board was formed by those who had the great vision and courage to speak about fishing, to define fishing, and to promote the idea of fishing in faraway streams and lakes where many other fish of different colors lived.

Also the board hired staffs and appointed committees and held meetings to define fishing, to defend fishing, and to decide what new streams should be thought about; but the staff and committee members did not fish.

Large, elaborate and expensive training centers were built whose primary purpose was to teach fishermen how to fish. Over the years, courses were offered on the needs of fish: The nature of fish, where to find fish, the psychological reactions of fish, and how to approach and feed fish. Those who taught had doctorates in fishology. But the teachers did not fish, they only taught fishing. Year after year, after tedious training, many were graduated and were given fishing licenses. They were sent to do full time fishing, some to distant waters which were filled with fish.

Some spent much study and travel to learn the history of fishing and see faraway places where the founding fathers did great fishing in the centuries past. They lauded the faithful fishermen of years before who handed down the idea of fishing.

Further, the fishermen built large printing houses to publish fishing guides. Presses were kept busy day and night to produce materials solely devoted to fishing methods, equipment and programs to arrange and to encourage meetings to talk about fishing. A speakers’ bureau was also provided to schedule special speakers on the subject of fishing. Many who felt the call to be fishermen responded. They were commissioned and sent to fish. But like the fishermen back home they never fished. Like the fishermen back home they engaged in all kinds of other occupations.

They built power plants to pump water for fish and tractors to plough new waterways. They made all kinds of equipment to travel here and there to look at fish hatcheries. Some also said that they wanted to be part of the fishing party, but felt called to furnishing equipment. Others felt their job was to relate to the fish in a good way so the fish would know the difference between good and bad fishermen. Others felt that simply letting the fish know they were nice, land-loving neighbors and how loving and kind they were was enough.

After one stirring meeting on “The Necessity for Fishing”, one young fellow left the meeting and went fishing. The next day he reported that he had caught two outstanding fish. He was honored for his excellent catch and scheduled to visit all the big meetings possible to tell how he did it. So he quit his fishing in order to have time to tell about the experience to the other fishermen. He was also placed on the Fishermen’s General Board as a person having considerable experience.

Now it’s true that many of the fishermen sacrificed and put up with all kinds of difficulties. Some lived near the water and bore the smell of dead fish every day. They received the ridicule of some who made fun of their fishermen’s clubs and the fact that they claimed to be fishermen yet never fished. They wondered about those who felt it was of little use to attend the weekly meetings to talk about fishing. After all, were they not following the Master who said, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men”?

Imagine how hurt some were when one day a person suggested that those who don’t catch fish were really not fishermen, no matter how much they claimed to be. Yet it did sound correct! Is a person a fisherman if year after year he never catches a fish? Is one following if he isn’t fishing?

John M. Crescher is a minister of Scottsdale Mennonite Church, Scottsdale, PA. This article was previously published in “Pulpit Digest and Church Growth.”