Using “Christianese” With Those Outside Our Bubble

As Christians, we can easily get trapped in our bubble of church friends and believing family members who, along with us, read Christian authors, check Christian blogs, have their Facebook news feeds stacked with Christian “friends”, eat at Chick-fil-A where there’s a nice “Christian” atmosphere, and rock out to Christian music in our minivans.  This bubble is hard to break free from because of the comfort and sense of security it provides us.

One of the dangers of getting too cozy in this bubble is that we become so familiar with the language of Christianity that we don’t know how to talk to unbelievers or new Christians about the truths of the Bible because we’re surrounded by people who know exactly what we mean when we use words like “righteousness” or “glorify”.  If an immigrant comes to America, moves to a neighborhood that is concentrated with people from his home country, gets a job in that same neighborhood, and spends all his free time in that neighborhood, chances are he’s not going to learn how to speak with anyone outside of that neighborhood.  Such is the same with Christianity and our language: “Christianese”.  We definitely need to take pains to get out of the bubble more often, but that’s another blog post.  Today, I want to concentrate on preparation for those times when we do get out.

Church, one of the purposes of our salvation is be proclaimers of God’s awesomeness (1 Peter 2:9).  Our proclamation should go out, yes, to each other, but also to the unbelieving world and those who are on their way into our gospel community.  Therefore, it’s not that we don’t use Christianese (though there are some traditional, non-biblical words I’d be happy to abandon), it’s that when we use it with those outside our bubble we must also teach it so that they know what we mean.  To help us toward that end, here is a list of words and phrases we should learn to teach to those outside the gospel community (in no particular order):

  • Jesus
  • Gospel
  • Atonement
  • The Will of God
  • The Trinity
  • Grace
  • Covenant
  • Scripture
  • Inspiration (in regard to Scripture)
  • The Kingdom of God
  • Righteousness
  • Faith
  • Repentance
  • Justification
  • Holiness
  • Propitiation
  • Sin
  • Glory/Glorify
  • Perseverance
  • Redemption
  • Regeneration/Born Again
  • Reconciliation
  • Salvation
  • Hell
  • Heaven
  • Sovereignty
  • Doctrine
  • Fellowship
  • Worship
  • The Heart
  • Sanctification

This is, by no means, an exhaustive list, but hopefully it will give us a good start at contextualizing our communication with those who need salvation or need more depth to their faith.

 
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About Brent Osterberg

Ransomed sinner, husband to Keri, father to the kiddos three, associate pastor at Calvary Bible Church in Fort Worth, TX, and lover of most things epic. View all posts by Brent Osterberg

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