By Not Known

This week’s title is my contribution to the acronyms of Singapore (reducing everything to initials!). For some reason Singaporeans love acronyms. They seem to be used not just for convenience and brevity like shortening Orchard Road Presbyterian Church to ORPC, but for effect, conveying a message or image or identity.

This passion for catchy acronyms seems to have taken over the church. I spent my first two weeks back catching up with all the initials and saying “Excuse me what is this?” After a time I dropped the ‘Excuse me’. But I still wonder what newcomers make of our bulletin. In our order of worship we are confronted by TH and B3. But this is nothing to the list of activities where we have W.E.D. SG, BS4WSG, SOTE SG, MMC practice, M&E activities. And my mind is still boggling at a recent minute of Session ‘The names A4W, E4W, BS4W will cease with immediate effect and only M2W will be used.’ At least the ladies have become a little more rational.  But we seem to have created a language of our own.

Language and the way we communicate our faith and fellowship is vitally important. We have seen throughout the letter of James the stress on the importance of words and language. Our words judge us. When we swear, curse, lie, quarrel and criticise and use words to stir up hatred and division, we come under judgement. Our words judge us and cause others to judge us.

So how do people judge our words? In a recent interview an American pastor Jeff Lucas said ‘I try to be radically honest, to avoid religious speak and terms that only make sense to Christians: I try to paint the Christian life in true colours. None of the above is unique but, sadly, rare.’ How are we communicating our faith and church? Can people tell we are Christians by our words? Or are we reducing our church to a series of acronyms?

Acronyms can be clever and catchy. But the great and central words of our faith, Trinity, Incarnation, Salvation, Justification, Sanctification, Glorification, need deep understanding and knowledgeable explanation in language people can get hold of. How much more profitable to have a passion to share the great truths of our faith, rather than the shallow catchiness of initials. So what is POP? It doesn’t matter. Perhaps, however, if you listen carefully to the sermon, you will receive a helpful acronym, and actually come out on POP! 

Derek Kingston