No, this article is not about the gospel according to Wordle. This article is also not about compromising biblical truths for secular methodology.
Instead, this article is about better understanding the world in which we live and the context in which we minister. Churches have often responded to culture in healthy ways. If one of your church’s worship services starts between 10:00 am and 11:00 am on Sunday, your church is part of a legacy of congregations that adapted well to the agrarian era of our culture. Your services met the contextual needs of the farmers.
Wordle is a recent example of a fad that reflects cultural realities. While churches should not emulate culture for imitation’s sake, we can learn a lot about the mindset of those we seek to reach. Indeed, Wordle can teach our churches five important lessons.
1. Simplicity beats complexity. Wordle is so simple even I can understand it. Many of our churches have so many programs, ministries, and activities that we appear to be worshipping a busy calendar. We mistakenly equate busyness with effectiveness. It takes five minutes to learn how to play Wordle. Sometimes we can’t understand how our churches function even if we are members for five years.
2. Rhythms are important. Wordle is a daily game. It is only a daily game. You can only play one time per day. You get in the Wordle rhythm pretty quickly. Churches that provide and encourage rhythms of weekly worship services, small groups, and giving are often the healthiest congregations. When your church members add the spiritual disciplines of a rhythm of daily prayer and Bible study, your church becomes healthier every week.
3. Expectations are set. The countdown clock on Wordle beckons you back for the game the next day. This game is not one that you can easily ignore once you get started. Unfortunately, many churches have low to zero expectations. We expect little from our members, so we get little. High expectation churches tend to be healthy churches.
4. Purpose is clear. My pastor is clear about the purpose of our church: “We exist because everyone needs the hope of Jesus.” All of our ministries and activities center around bringing the hope of Christ to others. Wordle has a clear purpose. Players have six attempts to guess a five-letter word. That’s it. Nothing else. Many of our congregations are not healthy because they don’t know why they exist. Thus, they don’t know what they are supposed to do.
5. Community is vital. From a handful of players in October 2021, the Wordle community grew to millions per day in just three months. Wordle is now a community phenomenon. Many users share the emoji grid on social media every day to show their results. Wordle has connected people all over the world. Our churches must have small groups and ministries that create an opportunity for community. Churches without small groups are already at risk. Christianity is not meant to be a solo act. The body of Christ is meant to minister together and love one another.
Wordle is not the next greatest development in history. It is, however, a phenomenon worth watching. And we who lead and minister in churches could learn some important principles from this game.
Posted on February 21, 2022
With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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I must really be simple. I’m still trying to figure out how to play wordle.