Ah.  Christianese.

Anyone with any kind of history in Christian circles knows without question what this unique language entails.  It includes words like “calling”, “discernment”, “spiritual disciplines”, and “contentment”.  The more intensive dialects of Christianese require in-depth knowledge of premillenialism, Armenian theology, Old Testament purity laws, and a wide range of Scriptural references to be thrown at random into conversation.

And there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with this language.  It exists for a reason.  It can be very useful.

But using this language in certain situations can be a tremendous mistake.

This language can be alienating.

Imagine entering a group setting where everyone speaks another language, or has a very strong accent.  What would your relationships with those people be like?  How would you interact?  What would be challenging?

With time, relationships with these people could certainly become strong, healthy friendships.  But that’s with time.  Initially, there would be a struggle to interact and communicate.  Every conversation would be a challenge, and you might be tempted to give up entirely and find another group with whom you could interact more easily.

Christianese is no different.

Also be aware that many people know how to use Christianese, but may not feel the same connection to it as you do.  Discussions on ‘calling’ may be easy for one person who was raised in the Church, but another individual may just be using the language because it is expected, without really connecting to the conversation.  This is another way of alienating people.

Pay attention to language that may be alienating, and make the conscious decision not to use it.  If you aren’t sure what might fall into that category, ask a friend or coworker to pay attention for you.  Eliminating Christianese from your repertoire will also require you to find new ways to speak about your faith and values.  Take this as an opportunity to put your life and beliefs into words that can be understood by anyone.

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