Watch your language!

10 Jul

As an addendum to the know your audience post I’d like to encourage you to also consider what type of language you use when speaking with non-Christians about faith. You might not know it if you have an insider’s perspective, but Christians have a lot of weird terminology. Some of it is the result of theological study over the years: substitutionary atonement, for example. Other language is symbolic but still strange like the “wedding feast of the lamb.”

I’m not encouraging you to bland-ify your language and strip your conversations of terms like the ones above. Instead I simply want you to be aware. Know that some of that stuff is weird, and acknowledge it. If you can make the same point or say the same thing without using Chistian-ese then do it.

My two examples probably won’t come up very often, but some that you might include that have ambiguous meaning to those who aren’t following Jesus (and some who are!) include:

Sin

Community

Worship

Saved

Relationship (with God)

Holy Spirit

Obviously this list isn’t meant to be comprehensive, just something to get you thinking. We can’t unlearn what we know, but try to imagine that you have no background with those words and someone is peppering them into the conversation…it would be intimidating. Someone who is just starting to seriously investigate the faith needs time to learn it, so help them out. Try to think of synonyms or analogies for the terms above, without losing the weight of their meaning. Or just be prepared to define your terms in simple language so that you and your friend can be on the same page.

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