September 19, 2007

Christianese and My Starbucks Order

We hear a lot about the alienating effect of Christianese on first time guests. Christianese being that super secret language that only Christians know and that makes outsiders feel uncomfortable.

Does our language have an alienating effect? Yes. If you have ever been a foreign country (like France, Mexico, or the South) or you have ever had to speak with your company IT guy, then you have an idea how alienating language can be.

But somebody needs to tell Starbucks and the rest of the coffee shop community. Who ever heard of a macchiatto? And how many of you really know what it means? And yet Starbucks (and countless other coffee shops) still use the term. Who ever thought of calling the small cup of coffee a tall?

There is a time and place to use the words of our faith, but they also must be explained. We need to use them in such a way that people understand them and what we mean by them. We also need to provide tools to help them learn their meaning (To understand Starbucks drinks there is this site, and they used to have a guide book available).

How do we use the words "Grace," "Obedience," "Servanthood," "Community," etc. so that people understand their meaning and what we mean when we use the words. It think that is more appropriate than just not using the words. Yes, there are some words that we probably don't need. There are alot of outdated words that get in the way. But there seems to be some words that we probably shouldn't do without.

What are some words you wouldn't want the church to do without? How would define them so that a non-churched person would understand them? What are some words you think we COULD do without?

The inspiration for this post came from here.


  1. Chris,

    Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.