Sep 2005 Beware bizspeak

Aged care is core business.” That’s how an Anglicare press release described their commitment to hundreds of staff and patients last month.

This press release was aimed mostly at Christians. But we are strangers and pilgrims in this world. And we speak a traveller’s dialect.

What about ‘we are committed to our aged care ministry because 1 Timothy 5 makes it clear that Christians must care for the elderly’? Or ‘providing aged care is how we honour the elderly’?

Biz speak is easy – ready made clichés for every situation. But maybe Christian organisations should not rush to use it. For Christians business is never ‘business as usual’.

‘World’s best practice’ is something we should be suspicious of, because the world is passing away. We have something better than the world’s best practice!

Business and church are different. Humility is prized in one, and not so much in the other. Biz speak is the language of measurement and control, which sometimes are magnificent tools. But they should not determine the vocabulary we use to talk about each other. We have a richer language, the language of the Bible.

We don’t have bosses and customers. We have deeper relationships: we have shepherds or servant-leaders and brothers and sisters. Our leaders don’t lord it over us. Yet it is a rare CEO that doesn’t have the big office or the big car. I know there are some and I hope Southern Cross readers are among them.

The Bible uses language that reminds us that the Kingdom of Heaven is breaking into our world. Sometimes, to this pew sitter, the deadly, bland language of biz speak reminds me of that other place.

Now some of you might be thinking I am too hard on biz speak. It is the language many of us use at work. Considering the demographics of Sydney Anglicanism that is almost certainly true for pew sitters, more than clergy.

But for every person in this town for whom the language of business has formed a soundtrack to some success in their career there are those for whom its circumlocutions have delivered much pain. The ‘downsized’ person, for example.

They may not figure as much as they should in our denominational rolls, but those who are poor in the eyes of the world have been chosen to be rich in faith. And such people are the focus of Anglicare. 

The Bible reaches people biz speak never will. So Anglicare, I must crave your patience in being twitted about your language. But we wouldn’t be Sydney Anglicans if we didn’t care so much about words, would we? 

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