It was a warm Canadian summer day, just perfect for a family picnic in the park. It was so perfect that there was a light breeze, birds chirping and I’m pretty sure I saw a unicorn. We set up under the shade of a maple tree and pulled out our meal to eat. Our oldest, 8 at the time, wasn’t feeling well, and for lunch, he asked for a bun with nothing on it.
I gave him all kinds of options: ham, cheese, butter, mayo. His reply: A bun with nothing on it.
Just the way he said it was almost rhythmic. Now in an effort to cheer him up, I started making outlandish suggestions that turned into VeggieTales-esque silly song with Larry…
Tomato? Elephant? Fingernail? Just a bun with nothing on it.
Next, because he was starting to giggle, it became:
What would you like for your birthday? Just a bun with nothing on it.
What about Thanksgiving? Bun with nothing on it too.
What would you like for Easter? Just a bun with nothing on it.
What would you like for Christmas? (He jumped in) ‘Turkey! Just kidding. Bun with nothing on it.”
I’m pretty sure the entire park heard me roaring. It was such a great quip, totally out of the pattern, and then right back in. It was a moment of fatherhood pride that, even while feeling unwell, he was right on his game to make someone laugh.
Now, whenever someone says “Just kidding” inevitably one of my boys will tag on “bun with nothing on it.” I’ve found myself explaining “A bun with nothing on it” to teachers, neighbors, and my parents when my boys bring it up because one of the most awkward feelings is being on the outside of an inside joke.
This got me thinking about what it feels like when someone visits our church and we use acronyms they don’t have any context for.
The LBS (Ladies Bible Study) group will be meeting in the ORA (Outdoor recreation area) this Thursday.
Sometimes our acronyms aren’t even specific to our church, but to our denomination or church culture.
‘Usually, I read from the NIV but today I’ll be reading from the message.’
Not only is that person feeling the awkwardness of being on the outside of inside information, but we often assume everyone gets that acronym and we don’t take time to explain it.
So what can we do? Evaluate everything you’re going to communicate in a scenario where someone outside of your church culture may hear or read it: Social Media, in a service with guests, your email newsletter or your bulletin, and view it through the eyes of someone who has never heard of a bun with nothing on it.