Jesus Came to Seek and Save…the Choir?

BY Audra

October 30, 2013


There are some idiomatic expressions we simply need to strike from the collective Christianese lexicon.

One such expression is preaching to the choir.

Have you ever thought about the message that is communicated with the expression preaching to the choir? The phrase is usually used in a context that means whoever you’re talking to already understands your argument, so there’s no need for you to continue it. Example: One stay-at-home mother says to another stay-at-home mother: “I just hate that people think we are lazy, or don’t do anything all day long.”  Odds are, the second mother already feels the same way, so she might respond that the first mother is preaching to the choir, communicating in essence: We believe the same way; no need to spell it out to each other.

That’s an innocuous enough context, but the expression itself has Christian roots. The implication is that the gospel needs to be preached out there, out in the street, where the sinners are, out in the world, where all those—gasp—secular people are. The members of the choir know the gospel. They even preach it themselves. It’s old news. Nothing to see or learn here. They’ve got it down pat. Stop preaching to the choir. The choir gets it.

But does the choir get it? I can’t remember the last time I was in a church service containing a choir-ful of perfect parish members. I think that’s because the last time was never. Choir members are sinners. Choir members have forgotten the message of the gospel. Choir members live in the secular world. Or, possibly worse, some choir members live immersed in Christian-only bubbles, where certain sins get disguised so well by an appearance of Christian behavior that they aren’t even recognized any longer as sin. Choir members have lied. Choir members have deceived. Choir members have gossiped, have coveted, have envied, have boasted, have adulterated, have—in short—sinned.

Choir members need the gospel just as badly as the secular world needs it. Let’s stop using this phrase to communicate implicit untruths about the church and Christianity.

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