Tired of Being Trite: One Pastor's War On Ministry Clichés
Six steps that stop me from dumbing down the gospel (when I remember to follow them).

But instead of allowing Jesus to speak for himself, we've replaced him with stale platitudes, meaningless traditions and pop psychology trivialities. And when we do so, we make him appear trite, too.

Why do we keep dumbing Jesus down?

It's not like Jesus’ teachings are wordy. Or his ideas too complex. The plain meaning of his teachings are clear enough to be understood and practiced by children, while many of his deepest sayings are short enough for Twitter.

Why do we keep dumbing Jesus down?

We can still relax and enjoy the fun, even silly things of life. After all, Jesus was filled with joy and he used the common parlance of his day to communicate deep truths.

So go ahead and use that movie quote or clip in a sermon. Just remember it's the icing, not the cake.

We need to get out of the way and allow Jesus’ voice to be heard. As purely, clearly, and joyfully as possible.

Listening to him through the Word and prayer, before daring to think we are capable of speaking for him.

The End Of Trite

When I say “we” have become trite with the gospel, I mean “me.”

I do it on a regular basis.

My war on triteness starts and ends with me.

Because I am Offender Number One, I won’t become the “trite police.” I won't be calling anyone out for their overuse of old clichés, stale Christianese, or for using yet another pop culture reference for a sermon series.

I have done far too much trite ministry in my life to call others on theirs. So my war on triteness starts and ends with me.

Here are six steps I try to take to avoid being trite with the gospel.

1. I will ask hard questions before I speak or write.

Questions like "do I really believe that?", "if so, why?", "if not, why not?" And most importantly, “is that anywhere close to the way Jesus would act, talk or think?”

2. I will be skeptical of anything that seems to fit my worldview too perfectly.

I have to stop assuming that my thoughts are deep, while everyone else's are shallow. Including the (probably false) Facebook link that absolutely confirms I was right about this! Whatever my “this” may be today.

3. I will avoid offering pat answers in hard situations.

I don’t know why kids suffer through their parents’ divorce. Why cancer took someone so young. Or how to help your child overcome their suicidal thoughts. So I won’t pretend to offer answers I don’t have.

Support our work. Subscribe to CT and get one year free.

Join in the conversation about this post on Facebook.

Recent Posts

Read More from Karl

Follow Christianity Today

Free Newsletters

More Newsletters ...