I wish I was the one who came up with the word “Christianese.” I would probably have a book deal or a cool bumper-sticker endorsement. But alas, I did not. However the person who coined the phrase was brilliant.
A lot of my readers go to church already, but maybe you don’t. Whatever way it goes for you this post aims to help you out. Think of it as “Google Translate” so you can reverse-translate what you’re saying and connect with people better.
The problem can be that the church has it’s own language. We all know what I’m talking about – big words that only people “in the club” know, right? Like “Guy Gardendirectus” as my friend Brett says. “Lord, Guy Gardendirectus through the rest of this day, amen.” Translation: God, guide, guard, and direct us” So I’m going to give you this pocket guide, free of charge so when that guy or gal w/ the thick Alabama accent prays or speaks next, it won’t sound like your listening to Mordechai the dancing Yiddish clown. Also, if you do go to church, maybe think about speaking in plain words to be more helpful:
Author’s Note: Some of these are a joke. We can have fun. I’m not poking fun at anyone but myself.
What They Say: “Howard be thy name.” Translation: “Hallowed be your name,” as in the Lord’s Prayer. (Apparently, God’s true name is Howard?)
“Restore the sick to their wanted state of health”= heal the sick (I never get this one. I’ve never met a sick person who wanted to stay sick).
“Fellowship Meal” Hang out with a bucket of KFC and some casserole in a Pyrex dish..oh…and 9 different kinds of Macaroni and Cheese…and a Baskin Robbins variety of potato salad.
“Traveling Mercies” As we travel, don’t let *insert name* die in a plane crash, fiery wreck, or get trampled by a hippopotamus.
“Place a hedge of protection around…” not a hedge as in a bush (b/c that doesn’t even protect you from bees! What about bees!) but protect someone from harm in life
” I have a spirit of heaviness” Christians can’t get depressed right (wrong!) so we get a spirit of heaviness…yeah…sounds more godly, right?
“praise report” Sounds like we’ve got a telegram in from home office – no, really, all this means is we’re about to tell you something good that God did in our life, like answer a prayer, heal us, helped us w/ a difficult situation, etc.
“Go home to be with the Lord” Wait…so God is at home? Why did we come here mom? No, we say this when a fellow Christian dies…they finally get to go to their true, eternal home.
“Time of sharing” It’s literally a discussion. That is all.
“Mayonnaise” as in ‘mayonnaise a lot of people in the church today.”
“I’ll pray for you…” This conversation is over. It’s your problem. I refuse to believe you won this theological argument.
“Love Offering” give extra this week for something…like a missionary, a disaster relief, or a family in need. (I’ll admit, this one sounds really creepy)
I could go on and on. The point: don’t use big phrases like “I’m so thankful for the soteriological implications of the eschatoloical realities of the substitutionary atonement and propitiation for my iniquities that God has lavished upon thee.” Keep it simple. Don’t assume everyone speaks like that…in fact, assume they don’t. And if you’re new to church? Go easy on us. We forget the world doesn’t speak like us. Help us communicate better. What would you add to this list?