If you’ve been a Christian for a long time, you might not be aware of how differently you speak from your non-Christian friends and neighbors. But it’s no secret that we speak in our own unique dialect: Christianese, as it is often called.
And some of that is necessary. In order to understand important theological and biblical truths, we often need to turn to words that have technical definitions—words such as sin, salvation, redemption, sanctification, and the like.
But then there are other words and phrases that have evolved within the American evangelical subculture that carry no theological weight. They’re just things we say. Maybe we should stop saying some of them, though.
Here are at least 11 Christianese words and phrases that I really think we should retire.
(Disclaimer: Although much of what you’ll read below is just good natured ribbing, it is also important to note how our language can alienate those outside of our faith tradition or church community. We should take care to ensure that our peculiar words and phrases never obscure the lifesaving message of Jesus.)
1. ‘Bless This Food to Our Bodies’
Expressing gratitude to God for every meal is a good thing. But asking God to “bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies” rings a little hollow when you’re towering over a cheeseburger and fries.
In any event, simply saying, “Thank you, Jesus, for this food,” works just as well, gets rid of the esoteric language, and doesn’t request that God “bless” something that is shortening your lifespan.
2. ‘I Covet Your Prayers’
Asking for prayer is a good thing. Coveting, at least by any modern usage of the word, is a bad thing.
Instead of “coveting” the prayers of everyone in our small group, we can simply ask, “Would you pray for me?”
3. ‘Love On…’
The Christian life is marked by love. We are called to love our neighbors as well as our enemies (Mark 12:31 and Matthew 5:44, respectively). There is no denying that loving others is a fundamental aspect of following Jesus.
But loving on others? Something about that sounds weird. If I didn’t know that the intent behind the phrase was innocent and harmless, I might begin to wonder if it were an innuendo for something—and something that I certainly don’t want done to me at that.
Relatedly, we should also retire “press in.” Technically, there isn’t anything wrong with it, but it just feels weird.