I noticed that a newly-started young adult ministry had made some pretty bold statements in its advertising materials.
It boasted that its worship time was “completely unique” within the (enormous) city it’s located in. That’s quite a bold statement! “UNIQUE.” How unique? “COMPLETELY.”
I went. It wasn’t.
And since they didn’t match their claim, that fact colored everything else they wanted to say to me. What a turn-off.
I also found a college ministry that claims their large group meeting is “specifically designed to be unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.” I didn’t get to attend that ministry – but unlike anything we’ve ever experienced? I guess it’s possible… but that’s a promise that could be hard to live up to.
Excited, opinionated promotion is good. But hyperbole is different. Technically, it’s lying.
And it backfires in the end. Even if my ministry or my event is really good, exaggerated accolades – about aspects big or little – create an expectation for newcomers. If we can’t live up to the hype, that by itself is a strike against the ministry, whether consciously or subconsciously.
When we claim “uniqueness,” particularly, we need to make sure we know what we’re talking about. That means actually checking out lots of other ministries before we can claim that we’re different. Because if we haven’t… how do we really know?
College and young adult ministers might face the hyperbole temptation more than anybody (although I’ve seen it in several big churches, too). We’re certainly tempted to talk a bit “bigger,” in order to get people in the door.