How to interpret Christianese

How to interpret Christianese

By Mark Driscoll

TranslatingI know many of you who read this blog are new to ministry leadership. I consider it a great honor to make any deposit, so thanks for allowing me that privilege.

When it comes to ministry, some things can only be learned through experience. One example is the ability to translate Christianese into English. So, I thought I would provide a handy lexicon of sorts to help accelerate your development.

1. “I prayed about it . . .”

This is what a Christian means when they are about to throw a fit but want it to look spiritual instead of childish. He or she is hoping that saying the word “pray” will overwhelm you with awe at their deep spirituality and cause you to fall into a catatonic state where you nod your head and agree to let them say or do whatever they want. And, if a single guy says this it means he wants to sleep with his girlfriend.

2. “The Lord told me . . .”

Translation: “I want to do something that you don’t want me to do, so I am pulling rank on you by saying that Jesus sent me a text but did not include you on the message, which means if you disagree with me you disagree with Jesus, so you should be humble and let me do what I want because you don’t want to disagree with Jesus, do you?” And, if a single guy says this it means he wants to sleep with his girlfriend.

3. “Not to be rude . . .”

Translation: “I am about to assault you. I will likely yell at you, make up horrible things about you, and ruin your life. I’ve already sent an email to the entire church/ministry with a lot of exclamation points and out-of-context Bible verses connecting Judas, you, and the Antichrist as the false Trinity sent to deceive the whole world in the Last Days Deception.” If you hear these words, buy a helmet and sleep with one eye open. And, if a single guy says this it means he wants to sleep with his girlfriend.

4. “With all due respect . . .”

Translation: “I have no respect for you. I despise you. If it were not a crime I would do horrible things to you, and I still might anyway if I can find a way to avoid getting sued or arrested. I have already gossiped behind your back and I already sent the mob out to look for pitchforks, a rope, and some matches. And, if a single guy says this it means he wants to sleep with his girlfriend.

5. “I know you are really busy, but . . .”

Some Christians are good at making people feel guilty so they can manipulate them to get what they want. Practically, what they are saying is, “I am more important than anyone in this ministry. I am more important than your family. I am more important than your health. Whatever else you have to do, you need to drop it all right now and take care of me. If you don’t, it is because you are unloving and not like Jesus who loved people.” And, if a single guy says this it means he wants to sleep with his girlfriend.

6. “No offense, but . . .”

Just as an anvil falls on the head of an unsuspecting victim in a cartoon and someone yells “Duck!” just a second too late, “No offense, but . . .” is what a Christian says right before they drop an anvil. What this means is that he or she has been planning to offend you, and now will be offending you while at the same time trying to get you to sit there and endure the whole offense by confusing you with the words “no offense.” It’s a diversionary tactic, like when a bank robber sets off a smoke canister to distract the guard while emptying out the till. And, if a single guy says this it means he wants to sleep with his girlfriend.

7. “I don’t mean to be divisive, but . . .”

Translation: “I already recruited a faction to join me. We have taken all of the nice people in the church/ministry as hostages. Underneath our choir robes we have explosives duct-taped to our chest, and if we do not get what we want in this hostage negotiation, we’ll ignite the whole church.” And, if a single guy says this it means he wants to sleep with his girlfriend.

8. “At my last church, they . . .”

When divorced parents get remarried and the kids really want to work their new dad for something (such as a new phone, Monster Energy drinks before a 1 a.m. bedtime, agreement to shoot off fireworks and airsoft guns in the house, or a new video game console), they talk about how awesome their first dad was. This puts their new dad in the tough position of caving in or running the risk that the kids will hate him and riot because he’s the bad dad. When a Christian leaves one church family for another, they like to do the same kind of thing. And, if a single guy says this it means he wants to sleep with his girlfriend.

9. “Some people have recently talked to me about [fill in the blank], and the Lord laid it on my heart to bring it to you . . .”

What people actually mean is that, although they are not officially a leader in the church, they have formed enough of a mob that they are now a de facto leader—kind of like a terrorist with a cell of sleeper operatives with hidden identities. This cell embeds in your church and remains unknown until thing start to blow up. And, if a single guy says this it means he wants to sleep with his girlfriend.

Finally, I know some of you will struggle with this blog post. But I assure you that I prayed about it, the Lord told me to write it, I did not intend to be rude, I offer these thoughts with all due respect, and I know you are really busy but I want you to consider them because no offense or division is intended, and these things were really helpful at my last church, based upon what people have recently talked to me about.

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