The Danger of Christianese

How our church language can do more to exclude people than draw them to Jesus.

Our Christian language develops because we strive to find words for the invisible realities in our lives. We rightfully use biblical terms to understand and give form to the growth and change of our inner nature. But there is a dark side: our Christian-only words can tempt us to avoid the reality of our spiritual lives. We can hide behind our words as a cover for spiritual dryness or despair. We can make nice talk, feel like good Christians, and avoid looking too closely at our own hearts. Sounds a bit pharisaical, doesn't it?

What Does That Really Mean?

As Christians, we would do well to notice Jesus' teaching methods. He used words and illustrations plucked from the daily life of the Judean culture—farming, family, festivals. As leaders and teachers, we must rigorously examine our words, seek to use culture to provide images for our theology, and strive to break down any obstacles that can keep someone from finding Christ.

Several years ago, I was counseling with a young woman serving full-time in a church. During our first session, she offered this observation of her struggles: "Over the past year I've experienced the redemptive qualities of grace."

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Nicole Unice

Nicole Unice is a TCW regular contributor. Nicole is on the ministry staff of Hope Church and author of Brave Enough and She's Got Issues. She writes for a variety of magazines and speaks nationwide at retreats and leadership events. Nicole and her husband Dave have three children. You can find her blogging about honest living at

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