Credit: Giammarco Boscaro on Unsplash
This daily post is designed to help you live into our New Room Society covenant of practicing daily prayer together. Below is this week’s theme and daily practice.
Week 30: Language
Where is the line between theological conversation and a monologue (or sermon) filled with church jargon? How is hospitality offered or rescinded by the words we speak?
“What you say can preserve life or destroy it; so you must accept the consequences of your words.” Proverbs 18:21, Good News Translation (GNT)
Language forms culture, and our need for new ways of expressing emerging ideas stimulates the birth of new language. It wasn’t long ago that we’d never heard of online gaming (or MMORPGS), we weren’t LOLing at the latest meme, and we didn’t wonder if someone was throwing shade.
The church has been in conversation about changes in language for hundreds of years, because we are deeply formed by the ways we speak and the things we have words for. A specialized language is necessary to teach and express unique ways of understanding the world.
Yes, it creates an insider/outsider experience. Sometimes it allows for sloppy theology. Is that reason for eliminating special words known only to church members? Or is it reason for paying very special attention to the ways we welcome new people who aren’t familiar with our words?
The Tables Project was built around three main places where we form friendships and welcome others into the community of Jesus followers:
- The Communion Table — Formal worship, both in church buildings and out
- The Kitchen Table — Home, with other leaders
- The Coffee Table — World, making friends
Perhaps your levels of church-centric language could be considered in the same way a French teacher might approach different groups of students: She would speak advanced French with the fluent students (Communion Table), slower and simpler French with the rising students (Kitchen Table), and very little French with brand new students (Coffee Table).
May your words always bring clarity and illuminate our leader Jesus.
Monday: Do You Speak Christianese?
Take a (lighthearted) listen to this podcast.
Here’s a funny video with the same, but more: Shoot Christians Say:
On a scale of 1 (not at all) to 10 (completely), how much “Christianese” do you speak or hear on a daily basis? Ask someone outside of your faith community the same question. What feelings or stories come up for them as you listen?