Fluent in Christianese

19d1a9701bd9ac43811212506aa3591a“Today in my quiet time, I just had an overwhelming encounter with the Holy Spirit. He really opened my eyes to see areas in which I am a sinner in need of sanctification.”

“Have you heard the latest quarrel between Driscoll and MacArthur? It’s about cessationalism.”

“If you knew what the Lord tasted like, you’d never return to other waters.”

All of these are extremely true and good statements. Maybe some of you did not exactly follow what I was trying to say in these made-up discussions. This is understandable because these are ways in which most of the world doesn’t speak.

The progression of these thoughts and the use of these peculiar words arise from the Bible, from doctrines concerning the Bible, or concerns people who study and teach the Bible.

But maybe a handful of you understood what I was saying and referring to, and in a given situation, it would be encouraging or would provoke a thought about an opinion you hold.

I was an associate pastor and church planting intern in the middle of the city of Chicago, IL, a year ago, and now I serve as a neighborhood and college minister of sorts in south Jackson at Alta Woods Baptist Church.

Most of my time in Chicago was spent, and a majority of my time in Jackson has been spent, with or around people who do not trust God as Savior. Through these years, I have had to learn some hard lessons about how I talk with others about the gospel and the Jesus I treasure so dearly.

I have fumbled through sermons and one-on-ones with people who do not believe in Jesus as Lord because of my “Christianese.” There are many times I did not, and still do not know how to accurately communicate what I am trying to say because I am addicted to a set of words that only me and my “community group” understands.

These words that are norms with the Church, are absolutely confusing to those who do not go to Bible study, or listen to Piper, or read Christian blogs, or participate in any sort of “church life.”

They are a turn off. They sound high-and-lifted-up, as though speaking over someone who doesn’t understand instead of speaking to them. They just do not make sense to those who have no clue what your Greek words mean.

The word “sinner” makes no sense to someone who has not been introduced to sin. Justification makes no sense, but saying “standing ‘not guilty’ before the Judge” does. Some of us would not even know how to explain the Gospel in a simple, but not diluted way to a group of people who have never heard of Jesus or what He has actually done, and all this because we only speak “Christianese.”

Even so, these words that are common talk in a discipleship group are likely not how God brought the Gospel to us. Most likely, most of us did not read a Grudem’s big blue book of theology and say, “I need to get saved!” Rather, as spiritual babies, He spoke in simple language of His love to us, through the simple beautiful Gospel, in order to save us.

A few final things to ask yourself:

–  These words I use-do I actually know how to explain them to a 6 year old, or is a big word, a BIG cover up for something I actually have not spent time reading the Bible and praying to God to give me understanding in?

–  These words I use-do they actually build others up, or set me high up?

–  These words that I use-if someone is at a table nearby me, will they confuse them more than attract them to the Savior Whom I am discussing?

Now, the humorous thing is that I have written a much directed article for the Christian audience, a very “Christianese” article. Some who do not believe in Christianity may read this and not understand a single word. Let us get coffee.

Others of you may read this and say, “Hmm… This dude is speaking in Christianese while talking about Christianese. Hypocrite.” Well take it from a young minister guy, I am not sure how to do this best, but it was my attempt to bring up the problem without being too wordy. And honestly, I am guilty of doing all of this, so condemning me is no new news to me. Jesus took care of it.

– Michael McGee, Contributing Writer


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