Maybe you’ve heard of death by committee, but there is another place where ideas go to die and its name is death by euphemism.
It doesn’t matter how great the idea, how powerful the moment or how well planned an outreach, death by euphemism is an equal opportunity destroyer.
But why do we laugh when we know we shouldn’t? Why do certain words and phrases tickle our funny bones? Perhaps we need to look at that age-old question: “What is humor?” One formula for a funny joke is to set the premise and then deliver an unexpected punch line. The result: humor. Example: what do you call a broken boomerang? Answer: a stick.
I suppose that is why some of the funniest double entendres and innuendos I have ever heard were in the context of church, because it is the last place I was expecting to find them. But when you do find them, they are very funny. Also, you feel bad for laughing in the first place which adds another layer of guilt and an unfortunate side effect; “giggles.” Now not only are you publically laughing at a joke that as a “good Christian” you shouldn’t even get, but to top it off you can’t stop giggling like my 4-year-old daughter when she hears the word “poop.”
A college ministry wanted to emphasize three of their core values. Worship, teaching and fellowship. These are great values and worthy of emphasizing. So they printed three large banners with their values written vertically and hung them from the front of their meeting place. The problem came when the first letters of the three words lined up across the top of the banners to read “WTF”
A children’s ministry needed a catchy motto for some t-shirts and went with “Touching the next generation.” which is a great goal but unfortunately also sounds like the motto of a man with a skinny mustache selling ice cream from his windowless van.
I started attending church at an Assembly of God church in a small town in Michigan as a teenager. I remember that there was a bulletin board in the foyer of the church with the announcements of what was happening that month. The letters were cut out by hand and spell out Assembly of God, but the word “assembly” was a bit long and was abbreviated in a very unfortunate manner. And it stayed that way for years because everyone was pretending not to notice the A__. of God. If that last sentence offended you don’t worry it was not the profane slang word you were thinking, it was the King James Version of the word for donkey.
So what is the point? The point is we don’t need to always thinking everything is a euphemism, but before you launch your next big outreach or ministry make sure it won’t suffer “death by euphemism.”
Have you heard of any other ministries, projects, conferences or ideas that were killed by euphemisms? Let me know in the comments.