See if you can understand this sentence: “I followed this guy for 1 mile because I thought he was deuce. So I light him up and find out he’s not deuce, but he does have a 10-36, so I took him 10-15!” If you work in law enforcement you understood right away that the officer followed a driver for a mile because he thought the guy was drunk driving. When he pulled him over, the driver wasn’t drunk, but he did have a warrant for his arrest, so the officer arrested him and took him to jail. That wasn’t so hard, was it?
Okay, maybe this one is more your speed, “Bob, our alpha geek, was on a bio-break, so I was just ego-surfing around and came up with a whole lot of link rot addresses for my name.” Got that? Obviously, Bob, the most knowledgeable, technically proficient person in the office, was on a bathroom break, so the speaker decided to search on the internet for his own name. What he found was a bunch of dead links instead of good sites. Even I had to look up some of those.
I’ll give you one more chance. “That power parker restomod Mustang had a serious puffer, a perfect rubber rake, and some sweet scallops.” If you’re a car guy you know that someone has seen a very nice supercharged Mustang that is only used for show, not driving, and has big tires in the back, small tires in the front and a custom paint job.
If you are an outsider listening to people who are “insiders” talk, it is pretty easy to get lost. And while it may not matter at a car show or dinner party, it means trouble when it comes to church. People who are new to church shouldn’t feel like they are out of the loop when they come to our churches. A Barna Research survey found that in the United States, only one third of adults could define the term ‘the gospel’. 7 out of 10 had no clue what ‘John 3:16’ meant. Think of that last sentence when you see people raising those John 3:16 banners at football games.
Here are some examples of Christianese, terms that may sound perfectly normal to people who have been in church for fifty years, but may sound weird to folks who are new. And before you think I’m exaggerating, I have heard each and every one of these!
“Have you been washed in the soul cleansing blood of the lamb?” Can’t we just ask if they have a relationship with Jesus?
“Here I raise my Ebeneezer.” I know that it is a way of remembering God’s blessings but isn’t there a more simple way to say it?
I actually read this in a flyer for an event just a few years ago: “Overcoming blindness, Sister Thippenthoppen has persevered and become a handmaiden mightily used of God.” I made up the Thippenthoppen name to protect the guilty. I’m not sure many women under the age of 100 would consider it a compliment to be called a handmaiden.
“Have you been born again and turned from the wide road of destruction to the narrow road that leads to our precious promised land?” Um, what? Oh, you mean do I have a relationship with Jesus, and has he turned my life from the habits and things that were killing me? Why didn’t you say that to begin with?
Here’s an idea: let’s drop all the holy mumbo-jumbo and just be genuine. Throw out all of the Christianese and catch phrases and just talk openly to each other. We’re not “sharing our burdens” we’re honestly talking about our lives.
We come into contact with people every day who need to hear about what Christ has done in our lives. They need good news, not jargon. They need peace, not pomposity.
Raising my Ebeneezer, but not singing about it… Jerry