Christian Media

Phil’s Monthly Religious Pet Peeve

In the age of satellite communications and new technology, why do we still call our church meetings “Campmeetings,” “Rallies,” or “Revivals”?
When are we going to update that?


  1. Because there is a religious system in place and way too many older folks are running it and they are communicating something with other older folks by using those terms. It’s the system that needs to be dismantled.

    Not too many in the Church are progressive in their thinking and ready to break out of the limitation of the past.

    George Bakalov

    PS: Your blog is # 1 on my RSS subscribe list

  2. I agree with your thought and have been pondering suitable replacements for the mentioned titles. I’ve seen others use terms like “summits,” “crusades,” and “conferences;” but I don’t know if I like those any better! We do need something better but what “that” is escapes me.

  3. Language is what holds subcultures together, take away the language and the group loses cohesion and they move on to form other groups (like Babel for example).

    Just go to silicon valley or hollywood and you will find each group has their own language, and they protect and foster it with much vigor.

    Just as with software developers and film crews, many in the church would like to keep their group an exclusive club, and they cling to their language as though it were an additional sacrament.

    But our group is one we were commanded to expand, to all other subcultures. So we need to adapt our terms to the language of each culture we seek to initiate, much as a missionary does to an unreached tribe.

    Yes, Phil is right (again…) (that is why we pay him that monthly retainer!)

    So, let’s drop the weird terms (camp meeting, narthex, bulletin, tract, etc) and then we will have more time to teach the meaning of the important terms (grace, faith, holiness, etc.)

    Now, would someone please lead us humbly before the throne of grace to return thanks for this bounty of which we are about to partake?

    Well Glory!
    Joe, Columbus Ohio

  4. Is the reason to upgrade the words just for the sake of upgrading? Are we that afraid that the church is outdated?

  5. <i>A wise man once said that, “A carbon copy is not the original”. Time to be “originals” by finding fresh, new formats an audience can relate to.</i>

    Good luck pulling that off in a subculture notorious for late adopters and cheezy knockoffs.  How long did churches stick with flannelgraphs when everyone else had switched to Powerpoint?

    Dragonraid (c. 1984) — “Just like D&D, Except CHRISTIAN (TM)!”

    GodTube — “Just like YouTube, Except CHRISTIAN (TM)!”

    Guitar Praise — “Just like Guitar Hero, Except CHRISTIAN (TM)!”

    Christian Chirp — “Just like Twitter, Except CHRISTIAN (TM)!”

    Seek & Find — “Just like Google Search, Except CHRISTIAN (TM)!”

    Christian Bonnet Romances — “Just like Harlequin, Except CHRISTIAN (TM)!”

    (I’m not even going to start on the horror stories of Christian knockoff T-shirts…)

    And the latest, according to our spies at a CBA/ECPA conference:

    Christian Paranormal Romances — “Just like Twilight, Except CHRISTIAN (TM)!”

    Always a day late, always a dollar short, always hitting the shelves in Jesus Junk stores AFTER the RL fad that “inspired” it jumps the shark.  WHEN ARE WE GOING TO START THE TREND INSTEAD OF LAMELY KNOCKING IT OFF?

  6. I would have thought that they still call these events by these names for the same reason that direct mail still has better results than twitter, email etc. The people most supportive of their ministries are still most comfortable with “the old way”. Is it really such a bad thing?

  7. Is the reason to keep the words the same just for the sake of keeping them the same?  Are we that afraid that we’ll become less holy if we use modern language?

    You ask, “Why change?”

    I ask, “Why stay the same?”

  8. I agree with you, Phil. Times have changed and so has terminology. Most viewers never attended an old-time camp meeting, or tent revival, unless they grew up in a Penticostal church. Camp meetings and revivals harkened back to times then the power of the Holy Ghost fell on everyone in the room. If you understand that every major Christian network (except for CBN) was started by a Penticostal preacher or evangelist, it makes sense that these pioneers would start out by using patterns they were familiar with to start each fledgling network. Campmeetings were special events that were easy to shoot, featured well-known evangelists, and packed a spiritual punch. Telethons were/are no more than church Missionary Conventions where pledges are raised to support missionaries taking the gospel around the world. Today’s Christian talk shows are just copies of Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show with a desk and chair. A wise man once said that, “A carbon copy is not the original”. Time to be “originals” by finding fresh, new formats an audience can relate to.

  9. The issue isn’t what we call it, but rather the message. You can barely name on one hand the preachers who are actually preaching the Gospel on Television on a world-wide scale. Oh, there are plenty of preachers preaching “another gospel” as the Apostle Paul stated, but in case you forgot, the Gospel is that man is a sinner, Jesus came down to earth and died on the Cross to redeem man, and only faith in His Finished Work and acceptance of Him as your Lord and Savior grants you freedom from sin now and Eternal Life in the future. Who is preaching that? The message of the modern church is money and psychology. Call it a Campmeeting or a Webinar. The dividing line between the apostate church and the true Church is the Cross. Which side are you on?

  10. The question is what works? By “works” I mean, what is impactful, what communicates truth, what touches the soul? “Fitting in” to modern cultural expectations is not always the best way to do this. (Christ’s ministry is the perfect example).

    I do not have specific alternatives to the naming issue. Just a challenge to not water down the goal of changing hears and minds through cultural conformity or mediocrity.

  11. Words are just letters and syllables until we apply meaning to them.  Meaning is what matters.  Once words lose their meaning to the audience with whom we are trying to communicate, then we need other words that do communicate meaning.  This is simple basic cultural studies 101, business/marketing communication 101, and missions 101.  Why should someone have to learn your language for you to share the gospel with them?  Isn’t our God the one who communicated Pentecost in such a way that it could be understood in all languages?   Why don’t we follow his example and learn the language of our audience and communicate with meaning?   Using new vocabulary does not mean abandoning heritage.  Sometimes you do need to have an internal vocabulary that communicates to the tradition of the past while taining the internal audience the vocabulary that gives meaning to the outsiders we seek to reach.   If we consider the Great Commission our business and non believers as our clients, then we must be prepared to present the ROI and the proposal in terms that have meaning for the client.  On the other hand, in the role of coaching our current base, we must appeal to terms that give continuity to our heritage while instructing them in the new branding and a unified message that communicates in terms and conversations that our prospects will relate to.


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