The urban dictionary defines Christianese as a “communicable language within the Christian subculture with words and phrases created, redefined, and/or patented that applies only to the Christian sphere of influence”.
Using these terms may have significance inside the church, but some need to be filtered in the real world so we can speak common English outside the church. Not only will we have a much more enjoyable experience but we will actually make sense to those we talk to.
As a public service, here are some other common phrases used in the church, along with their English-language equivalents:
I’ll pray about it. Translation: typically means you will NOT pray about it, or it’s a way to say “no!” without actually saying “no”.
Quiet time. Translation: an adult version of a time-out, but with Jesus.
Hallelujah. Amen! Translation: Huh. What!
Let go and let God. Translation: give up trying and let God take over. First time hearers will usually give you these responses: Let who what? What are you talking about?
If it be God’s will. Translation: I really don’t think God is going to answer this one.
Invite Jesus into you heart. Translation: someone who is witnessing (usually in their ‘witness-wear’) will come up to a non-Christian and inquire if they have asked Jesus into their heart. While I admire the effort to get people into the Kingdom of God, this phrase is likely to confuse the audience as well as make them think that you’re inept with biology or just one of those strange home-schooled kids who never learned real English.
Bless your heart. Translation: you’re stupid / wrong / confused / unintelligent. Here is the deal with this southern belle phrase; its the most passive aggressive terminology ever invented. When this is used we are invoking the blessings of God’s name on someone while subliminally indicating that they confused and need to be educated.
Feeling led to…. Translation: either you did or didn’t feel like it. Plain and simple, this phrase is the cop out for not doing something. It’s the secondary form of “God told me.” In this maneuver one must speak of doing something serious in which may have repercussion. Thus, in order to defer consequences we have to blame God. “It wasn’t me, I just didn’t feel God leading me.” Can be translated into any of the following: a) I was too tired, b) I didn’t want to, c) I’d rather go party this weekend, d) I don’t actually have any other commitment, or e) I was hoping someone else would do it for me.
Let’s have a word of prayer. Translation: I am going to pray for a long, long, long time.
That’s not my spiritual gift. Translation: Find someone else.
Fellowship. Translation: Organized gluttony.
The Lord works in mysterious ways. Translation: I’m totally clueless.
Lord willing . . . Translation: You may think I’ll be there, but I won’t.
God led me to do something else. Translation: I slept in instead of going to church.
God really helped me with this test. Translation: I didn’t study but I guessed good, so I’m giving God credit in the hope that He helps me again.
She has such a sweet spirit! Translation: What an airhead!
I have a ‘check’ in my spirit about him. Translation: I can’t stand that jerk!
Prayer concerns. Translation: gossip.
In conclusion . . . Translation: I’ll be done in another hour or so.
Let us pray. Translation: I’m going to pretend to talk to God now, but I’m really preaching at you.
You just have to put it in God’s hands. Translation: Don’t expect me to help you.
Of course, I am totally making light of the way Christians talk, and I include myself in the group. I’ve probably used every single one of this phrases at one time or another. But the point I want to make is that in our attempts to separate ourselves from the world, we have developed our own little language that serves only to alienate us from the very souls that need us.
Make your words count.
In a good way.