Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The awesome power of trite phrases

Servant-leaders aren't powerless when it comes to finding themes for messages, not in this day of the practical and culturally cool! The trite phrase is the most cutting-edge tool in a relevant pastor's toolbox today, and it can be a time of deep discovery to invent and hone these phrases.
First, a pastor must come up with something that will make a listener nod and smile. Movement phrases are often effective here. "Let's move forward," though overused, still captures attention. No one wants to be accused of moving backwards or staying still.
For variety, you can add a little oomph by changing that one to "Let's push forward."

Climbing mountaintops, leaving the dock, launching a new something, venturing toward the unknown, taking a leap of faith, diving into something: all these work well as movement-based trite phrases.And don't forget "driven." Anything can drive, just about. Just watch out if you're in the bike lane.

Here are some current trite phrases you can adapt to your own needs:  _______________(passion, purpose, leadership, organization, outlook) is essential, ________________ (creativity, leadership, missional outreach, exponential giving) fires me up, embrace the ________________(something generally thought to be negative: trouble, tension, stress, conflict, hardship), maximize your ____________(something good), are you afraid to ______________(take risks, lead, move forward, be creative, make a plan?

The power of stating the obvious should never be overlooked. Put one foot in front of the other; Together, we can ___________; Never shift in reverse without looking behind you; Breathe deeply and carry a big stick; When pulling weeds, don't pluck up the geraniums; Hot beverages can burn you; Don't fall asleep on the journey; You can only wear one pair of shoes at a time... Any blatantly obvious statement can become a powerful trite phrase.

The advantage of shallow tidbits of advice is that you don't have to spend long hours musing over scripture. You don't even have to spend five minutes reviewing the scripture you once knew. You don't need scripture at all! People will nod knowingly and grin broadly as you throw out little platitudes, and they'll leave the worship center convinced you've brought them closer to God, all with very little prep time! Best of all, they'll come back for more next week. So give it a try. Make up a trite phrase of your own, or borrow some of these.

Always put air in your tires before a long journey, stop worrying about past mistakes; if you wait until the pool is warm enough, you'll never get in; lather, rinse, repeat; don't dive headfirst into a river without knowing what's under the water; if you throw rocks at a bear, you better be prepared to run...

Take a risk, journey forward, take a journey-driven step and make up your own.

3 comments:

Meg and Burnie said...

We have a small denominational church round the corner from us which has one of those church noticeboards which are purpose built for carrying the trite phrase. Here's some we have seen lately:

God couldn't be everywhere so he created mothers
(one one side of the board)
God didn't have enough love so he created mothers
(on the other side of the board)
If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything.
If you are in the dark then turn on the light
etc.
Guaranteed to annoy and distract as you drive past.

Meg and Burnie said...

Here's another one which Christians use regularly to avoid doing anything outrageous like taking responsibility for their actions...

"Hurt people hurt people".

Or how about this one...

"There's no such thing as a perfect church"

Provender said...

God couldn't be everywhere? God didn't have enough love? Those are new ones! I can imagine how distracting. We have one church on a busy road with a constantly changing scoreboard-type sign. I like the church, but the sign drives me nuts! (If they really wanted to be helpful, they could provide time and temp, right?)

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