Christian MediaEngaging Culture

Let’s Lose the Christian Lingo

Based on my recent post, let’s create a list of “Christian Lingo” that we just can’t use anymore. Words that might have meant something to another generation, but have little or no meaning to the church or culture today. I worry that we’ve created a language in the church that no one outside our little group even understands. Word like “fellowship” – as in “Let’s have a mighty time of fellowship.” Or “Crusade” – as in “Evangelistic Crusade.” Or my current favorite, “Rally” – as in “Youth Rally.” What other dated religious words can we get rid of? Let’s start a list. Post away:

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  1. Have you every stood back and wondered what a non-Christian would ever think of when they hear the term "Love Gift". I mean, it doesn't sound like something I want to ask someone for? "Hi for your love gift I will send you this thing as a thank you". Isn't that illegal in most states?

    John Owens-Producer/Director

  2. In the book, Christian Writer's Manual of Style, authors Shelly Townsend and Bob Hudson compiled a great list of religious jargon that should be used sparingly if at all! We reference that in our Marketing Department to keep our "lingo" current and relatable to today's world.

    Some examples:
    abundant life
    burden on my heart
    Christian walk
    life-changing experience
    straight and narrow






  3. I think often when people use Christian lingo in mixed company it is to be divisive. It is just as rude as shifting from a common language to one that only a select group knows. I also find it rude when these same people take an unrelated topic of conversation and segue it to Jesus. I've noticed people do that on this blog.
    Awhile back Phil asked people to list reasons why the Christian lifestyle is different than any other lifestyle but without using Christian lingo and quoting the bible. The exercise was to show how one communicates to non Christians. Most people could not do it. 
    Now imagine someone displays the above behavior on a TV show whose audience you want to expand. Do you honestly expect the viewer to whip out the Christian to English dictionary?
  4. All well and good! Ditch (chuck? pitch?) the Christianese. Equally useful, perhaps more so, is to come up with a list of substitutes for all that lingo. Tony's Christian-English Dictionary is not a bad idea. New book for you, sir?

    Blessings. (Oops! I mean, have a nice day.)

  5. A young man, Bill, was seeking out the possibility of embracing Jesus and was invited to a local Bible study. He went for a few weeks and was intrigued enough to come back, but not convinced enough to make a commitment. Finally the leader of the group came up to him and said, “Hey Bill, how to you like our study?” Bill decided to be honest and said, “Well, it’s very interesting but I have one question. What is THE WORD? Is that some secret word that gives you insight or understanding? Can you tell me what that is?” The leader suddenly realized that poor Bill had been the victim of Christianeze and had to explain that THE WORD is THE BIBLE…….

  6. I have mixed feelings on this. In the same way an English teacher would not want her students to dumb down their vocabulary just to fit in, I'd hate to see powerfully descriptive words such as edification, fellowship, anointing, revival just fade away. But, I confess that their meaning has been lessened by over-abundant and incorrect use. And I suppose the New Testiment was written in the "common" Greek of the time.

    Here's an interesting one. What about the large use of the phrase, "God told me to…". I am actually working with a screenwriter who is telling the story of a woman who murdered her children in response to what she said was a command from God. But that's another topic…

  7. Fellowshipping (is that anything like overnight shipping?)

    Calling someone a partner who simply ordered that CD on weight loss for $9.95


  8. For some reason, I’ve always found Christian sign-offs to letters, emails etc (Yours in His Service, Yours in Him etc) particularly irksome. So much so that I have my own spoof sign-offs I often use (Yours in Ept, Yours in Trepid, Yours in Different etc).

    1. Um, no. What makes the secular world think “bad film” is horrible acting, production and directing. Keep in mind that two of the highest grossing films of all time were “faith based films” (see The Passion of the Christ and The Ten Commandments) when you have heavy-handed, hamstrung, poorly constructed messages strung together by horrible writing, cheesy effects, and second rate acting, that’s when you get Cloud Ten’s Left Behind or Stephen Baldwin’s failure *gag* Six: The Mark Unleashed.

      Just because a movie has a religious message doesn’t automatically rate a snub by movie goers. It’s seeing a trailer, poster or scene and knowing immediately: “Oh God, did somebody really make this piece of garbage into a movie?” or “Dude! That looks awesome I can’t wait to see it!” Get better writers and film makers and quit whining that crappy movies often get made by zealots and not pros. If Michael Bay can still make millions off of Transformers having truck nuts, your message can make money at the box office.

  9. How about-"Get thee behind me Satan"

    Or-"23Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful" 2 Timothy 2:23-34

    Or-" 3 He who guards his lips guards his life,  but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin."

    How about-I find your words offensive and disrespectful, Mr. Modern Evangelist. 


    1. Unfortunately many new Christianese terms are constantly cropping up. To an unbeliever or new believer they can be confusing. Here are a few: Vulnerable, broken, brokeness. transparency, authentic.

      There is nothing wrong with the principles behind most of them, but they have become overused buzz words. Pleading with OTHERS to be any of the above is telling people how they should live. Why can’t we just demonstrate to them, and see how that works.

      I find when I pray for wisdom, the Holy Spirit leads me to use the right words, filling my mouth, in terms the listener can understand. Why would someone unfamiliar with the love of God, really want to become vulnerable, or broken? Unless of course they can see in YOUR life that you are vulnerable and broken and are rejoicing in that, and set free by it.

      There really is no benefit to spilling your guts to everyone you meet, unless you are following a prompting of the Holy Spirit.

      So if we are trying to speak in language all can simply understand, like the gospel, let’s also avoid “the latest” buzz words too.

  10. I love this post. As a new Christian (or baby Christian-a really annoying term btw), I appreciate that you think the lingo is just as crazy as me. I feel like the language barrier makes some people feel like outsiders when entering a Christian culture, the exact opposite of what you want to happen.
    I, for one, had a really hard time with all the references to “the enemy”. I am more comfortable with it now because I’ve been immersed in it, but I have to tell you…that it was all a little intimidating at first…cultish even. It’s important as Christians that we think about how other people see us…especially my friends in prison ministry. Otherwise, we’ll never bring anybody else to Christ.

    1. Um…you are in a cult. By literal definition:

      cult (kəlt/noun)
      “a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object.”

      Remember: The only thing missing between crazy and praying is a legal argument. If you talk to invisible people you’re nuts. But if you call them God, you’re deemed normal…unless you try it as a legal defense, then you’re screwed. -The Angry Veteran

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