Golden Keyes Parsons here in Central Texas experiencing March going out like a lion, hoping April will come in like a lamb. Now that is what is known as a cliche’, and writers are to avoid them like the plague. Oops! Sometimes it is difficult to do.
The same rule applies to speaking, and I would like to address today particularly the cliches we use within the Christian community — “Christianese.” Words like “saved,” “sin” “conversion,” “walking the aisle,” “repentance.” As Christian writers and speakers, we are so familiar with these terms that we forget there might be those in the audience who have no idea what we are talking about. Even the word “Christian” is easily misunderstood by a non-believer.
I play Mah Jong once a week. It is the one hobby that I indulge in and allow myself to be diverted from my writing. One of the ladies is Jewish, a precious friend, but has not yet accepted Jesus. The rest of my friends in that group are Christians and I have noticed frequently a bewildered look on her face as the conversation turns to topics of faith. Sometimes she will ask what a particular phrase means, but sometimes she does not. In a kind manner that is not condescending, one of us will ask if she’s familiar with the term, then explain.
Should we ditch using Christian terminology? Not necessarily, but we need to be aware there might be those who will not understand. Simply offer a brief explanation or substitute a different word. So let’s say we use the word “sin.” As a parenthetical phrase, we could say something like, “Missing the mark,” or “Rejection of God’s way.” Or “repentance.” “Coming back to God.”
Be aware of your audience. Even when you think the entire group is Christian there might be one who is wondering what “born again” means and is waiting to make that decision to accept Jesus’s gift of new life. Take time to make your message as clear as possible.
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