The Problem with Language


In a couple of days I will be a presenter at the first ever IgniteBend. This is not a church-y event, in fact it seems kind of refreshing in that way, but as I was putting together my presentation entitled “You May Have Heard It Said, But…” I thought about all of the things I say that make sense to me (sort of) but have absolutely no meaning to those folks outside the “church” world. So…I did as I always do and I asked some folks. In this case it was the twitterati, my facebook friends, and one guy from brightkite.

The response was overwhelming…in about two hours I had enough words and phrases to fill up several sheets of paper. I have compiled that list and condensed it showing you how many times each word was suggested. Narthex was repeated four times, which I thought was interesting to say the least. I also find it interesting that I will use words like narthex, chancel, pulpit, font, sanctuary when talking about a Presbyterian church, but here some of my colleagues from different church backgrounds use words like foyer, stage, podium, baptismal, worship center. I think it boils down to my elitism (which I talked about in detail a while back.)

Here goes, THE LIST:

God

Communion x2

Fellowship

Quiet time

Narthex x4

Lectionary

Evangelism/Evangelical

Eucharist x2

Kingdom

Communion of saints

The here & not yet

Intercession

Liturgy

Acolyte

Creed

Predestination x2

catholic (with a little c)

Font

Justification

Ecclesiastic

Covenant

Transformation

Eschatology, (really any of the ologies I think)

Doxology

Benediction

Fellowship x2

The Bible x2 (all the characters and places and names of the books).

Exegesis

Discipleship

Sanctification

Witnessing

Liturgy/Liturgical

Ecclesiastical

Liberation

Presbyterian

Staff meeting

Heurmeneutics

Consubstantiation

Sacrament x2

Grace

Dispensationalism

Ecumenical/Ecumenism x3

Stewardship

Transfiguration

Legalism

Berean (I don’t know what this is…)

Rabboni

Yahweh

Lent

Epiphany

Advent

People really don’t get the whole washed in the blood or lamb stuff

Holy Ghost

Ministry

Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday (aren’t all Fridays good?)

Also, the difference between preacher, pastor, minister, priest

What is an elder or deacon? x2

Trinity

Redemption

Salvation

Sanctuary

Sacred text

Holy

Altar

Polity

I guess it goes to show that every community that we are in has their own language. A language that may have no meaning to those outside the community. A language that doesn’t have much meaning to those inside the community. I guess it just means when I am out talking to people and they ask me about my faith, I should be able to respond with authenticity but be sensitive to the fact that they may have absolutely no idea what I am saying.

Blessings,

Greg

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