by Toni Birdsong
Christianese. It’s easy to fall into and entirely logical for a Christian—after all, it’s our cultural code; the mother tongue of heaven. Still, it can become a colossal stumbling block if you are interested in sharing your faith online.
Simply defined, Christianese is the jargon, terminology, and exclusive language used by Christians that usually only Christians can understand. Christianese isn’t a bad thing (despite the jokes around it)—in fact it’s a positive that we share this powerful fellowship.
But when communicating with non-believers (and anyone else), speaking Christianese can sink a conversation quickly. Use it enough and you’ll find yourself on the outside of the influence circle looking in, which can put a real damper on The Great Commission.
Some common Christianese: “Washed in the blood of the Lamb,” “saved by grace,” “old man/new man,” “unblemished lamb,” “fruits of the spirit,” “grieve the holy spirit,” “testimony,” “sanctified,” “fellowship,” “spirit of the Lord,” “witness,” “born again,” “get saved,” “it caused me to stumble,” “I feel convicted,” “sovereignty of God,”. . . and the list goes on . . . and on.
6 ways to avoid Christianese:
- Keep it simple. Choose words that a 5 year-old can understand. Instead of “washed in the blood of the lamb” just say, “Because I believe in Jesus Christ, I’m forgiven.” Instead of “I’ve grieved the holy spirit,” just say, “I really messed up this time. It hurts that I hurt God.”
- Know the root/truth. To dial Christianese back, make sure you know the root of the term you are trying to explain. Look in the back of your bible in the glossary. Also, Love of God has a great list of Christian terms and definitions, as does Wikipedia.
- Keep it real. In sharing your faith, you will always be a sinner talking to a sinner—or one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread. Overcomplicating that reality (or using seemingly condescending phrases) will get you in trouble quick. If sharing your faith within social networks is important to you, re-read everything before you post it and delete the fluff, clichés, and phrases only a Christian would understand.
- Share your life—the real one. Give honest commentary on the wins as well as the losses of your daily life. If you want access to others, you must give access (within reason). This will require pulling back the curtain to some degree. The Christian life is defined by heaven but that doesn’t mean there won’t be real trouble on earth. Revealing imperfection is not only acceptable but expected in social networks.
- Tell your story. (Notice, it’s “story” not “testimony”). Everyone has a “new life” story. Just tell it simply and honestly in bits and pieces. What did your life look like before you got serious about Christ and then after you committed to follow Him?
- Use humor. Humor is the shortest bridge between two hearts, when used in context. Humor is used powerfully (and creatively) by some of our favorite evangelists/tweeters such as @sueduffield, @JesusNeedsPR, @robbiespeaks, @trippcrosby, @jonacuff and @PatsyClairmont. For instance, flip your thinking conversationally and explain “fruit of the spirit” with something funny like: “I see big changes in my life since I met Christ . . . I’m more loving, patient, kind, and have for the most part, stopped kicking the cat. Basically, I think people can stand me now.”
As we dive into deeper in the book @stickyJesus: how to live out your faith online, one of the most powerful ways to make an impact in your online circles of influence is to daily ask the Holy Spirit to guide your mind, heart, and words. Listen to the people around you and use language that reaches into their lives. It really is that simple.
What Christianese do you notice online? How can those concepts/words be communicated better?
Post/tweet this today:
Don’t say in 10 words what can be said in 3: Jesus loves you. #LiveSticky #KeepinItReal