Saturday, May 3, 2014

Churchspeak Explained

It is often embarrassing to realize, when you respond to a statement you have heard or read, that the speaker or writer was using a special linguistic register and that you didn't really understand their intended meaning. This can be most uncomfortable when it comes to communication within the church, where we're all meant to be united by a bond of brotherly or sisterly love. So here, for your future convenience, is a translation of some expressions commonly used in a church-related context. In each example, the words you hear or read are followed by the literal meaning.

The pastor's doctrine is all right, it's his personality that's the problem.
Translation: We've had it up to here with faithful Law and Gospel preaching.

Our kids would come back to the church if it would only make its services more seeker-friendly.
Translation: The church doesn't feel comfortable enough to unbelievers.

You shouldn't be so afraid of a change of style if the substance stays the same.
Translation: Please ignore the fact that we are replacing one religion with another.

You should have followed proper procedures of 8th Commandment/Matthew 18 admonition.
Translation: How dare you take a faithful stand against apostasy!

Let's lodge a complaint about this guy without following 8th/18 procedures.
Translation: We have to deal with this faithful twerp. There's no time to lose.

We've got to change how we (teach/worship) or our numbers will never grow.
Translation: The Word of God is not effective enough without added help.

Pastor, we're all going to withhold our offerings from the general fund.
Translation: If we can't sack you in an ungodly way, we will afflict you and your family until you quit.

Of course So-and-So (seldom seen in worship) is eligible to chair the Finance Committee. He's a lifelong member and highly capable!
Translation: Mammon is our God. Get out of the way.

Of course So-and-So (who resigned in protest under the previous pastor) should be reinstated as head elder, now that he's transferred back into membership.
Translation: He helped us get rid of the previous guy, maybe he can do it again.

We chose this congregation over three churches closer to home because we love it. But this, this, and this need to change.
Translation: We have chosen this church as our mission field to convert you all to the one true faith.

We just want what's best for you, pastor.
Translation: We think you should try another line of work.

Pastor has been faithful in every way, but we think it's time for him to move on.
Translation: He didn't do what we wanted him to do, so he must go.

The problem with you, pastor is (insert personal opinion about his character or that of his family).
Translation: I'm about to say the kind of thing to you that, if you said it to me, would end with me breaking my fist against your teeth. Now shut up and take it.

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