I was writing a blog post last week and I was ecstatic at the progress I began to make. I was confident of the stories I was putting together and my excitement began to flourish at the thought of you reading it. I stopped writing and thought I would finish it another time.
Moments later I came back and began to read what I had thus far… I decided that I had to scrap it.
It sounded like it wouldn’t be well communicated to a diverse audience. It was limiting how much of an impact my writing could have.
So, what was the problem? Well, watch this video to have a better idea of what I am talking about
In case you still don’t understand what that video was about, let me help you with this definition; “a casual, informal language that everyday Christians use when they are talking with one another about their faith.” That’s a definition I found online for something called, “Christianese”.
If you consider yourself a Christian you have a few phrases that come to mind when you hear that word. I’m sure you may even use one or two in your casual conversations with your friends on a day-to-day basis. You can think of Christianese as “Christian slang.” It can compare to using words such as; “cool”, “hip”, “dope”, etc., but in phrases only thrown out in a community of Christians. And yes, I am bringing “hip” back!
Who is your audience?
Part of graduating with an English degree meant that I read into a bunch of English literature and an overwhelming amount of rhetoric. As much as I hated rhetoric, it stuck with me to this day. One of the fundamentals of rhetoric is understanding “The Rhetorical Situation”. This is the relationship between an author and his/her audience. It is usually regarded around a particular issue or topic. You, not only need to know who your audience is, but you need to have some understanding to what degree they understand an issue or topic.
Here’s the thing. Words, such as “dope”, will not be translated well if you are trying to talk to your grandma. She isn’t using these words or talking about the latest trend as a younger generation. Your “nanny” does not know what a “dab” is or how one “whips” and “nae-nae’s” (Is that how you even spell it?). At least not the average grandmother.
So, in the case of Christianese, we need to have a better undertanding of how phrases such as “born again”, “finding Jesus”, or “backsliding” translate to everyone else. Some Christianese expressions have become well-known in the church, such as “What Would Jesus Do?” and “dying-to-self”, but these may only confuse your buddy from work who only attends church on Easter and Christmas. The majority of Christianese expressions are only well understood by other Christians, which is why I think they should fade away from our language.
That is not a good way to set yourself apart from the world, especially if we can’t be understood by someone who has, not yet, comitted their life to God or the “Christian” lifestyle.
Bare with me as I am trying to refrain myself from using it in this post.
A Work in Progress.
As much as I know Christians are reading my blog posts, I am trying to be aware that not every one of my readers will consider themselves a believer in my faith. That post that I was writing that I, then, had to scrap had an existential amount of it and I wasn’t satisfied. To me, it was cringe-worthy. It simply wasn’t universal (at least in the English language).
I had the epiphany that if we want a medium to be viewed, read, or listened to by everyone, they will need to understand it. You can’t expect someone who has never stepped foot in a church to understand what your “testimony” is. I read an article written by Evangelical Press Association that suggests using a phrase such as “your spiritual journey”. We can find better ways of explaining Jesus to someone without having them be turned-off by our choice of words.
And if words like this are really universal, I shouldn’t have a problem talking to other believers with them.
But these are my thoughts. How do you see this? Do you think it’s an issue?