Hey Church: We Have a Disease

There has been quite a few comments since my post on Friday. Much of it has to do with labeling...and the appropriate way to talk to those outside the church. It reminded me of this quote...

The problem is not our heart. It is not our intentions. We are ignorant. We don’t mean to be ignorant, but we are. We have a disease called “The Curse of Knowledge."

In their book Made to Stick, brothers Chip Heath and Dan Heath expand on this term, “Once we know something, we find it hard to imagine what it was like not to know it. Our knowledge has ‘cursed’ us. And it becomes difficult for us to share our knowledge with others, because we can't readily re-create our listeners' state of mind." 

We are cursed with church knowledge. We know the basics of the Bible. We know where to park our car in order to exit quickly. We know where the bathrooms are located. We know the songs. We know when we are supposed to clap after a song and when we should be reflective. We know what the pastor means when he says, “Just as in the days of Noah…” We know we ALWAYS sing verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, repeat last phrase, again, one more time. We know God is faithful AND all things work out for good AND sometimes God answers prayer by telling us to wait AND when God closes a door he sometimes opens a window AND a thousand other silly slogans which look good on a bumper sticker but mean nothing to people who do not know.

The problem is we have no memory of what it is not to know. And so our churches, led by people plagued with the curse of knowledge, provide experiences and design services that feel right to people who know stuff but totally miss the boat when it comes to people who don’t...

The curse of knowledge disables most of us (who have been in church for years) from being able to hear our message in the same way as someone who has no room for church in their lives. It also keeps us from hearing the teaching of Jesus in the same way someone who did not grow up in the church hears the same words.The curse of knowledge keeps us from being able to see that we are not communicating.

You say, “I’m speaking in English. Everyone in my community understands English. I’m speaking in their language. Right?” Not necessarily. Speaking the right language is more than the words that are spoken. It is about context, timing, previous experiences, and culture.

Want the context on this quote? It is from page 46 of Pop Goes the Church. Want to dive deeper, join me on November 12th for an all-day workshop on this subject.

Want to agree or disagree with me? Leave a comment.

Tim Stevens11 Comments