When You Don’t Speak “Christianese”

I grew up in a Christian home. In fact, I grew up at Scottsdale Bible Church. I was always surrounded by believers in Christ—whether it was my parents, my friends, or even my teachers at the Christian school I attended from kindergarten to 8thgrade.

Phrases like, “How are your quiet times going?” or “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” or “the blood of the Lamb slain for us” were a constant white noise in my life. But at some point, it dawned on me that some of the words that so naturally come out of the mouths of believers are actually pretty strange to those who aren’t surrounded by them like I was.

I remember being a little freshman in high school whose faith had just become her own. Suddenly, hearing the words “we have freedom in Christ”—words that I had heard hundreds of times over the years—became new and fell on fresh ears. For the first time, I realized I didn’t know what that meant.

What did it look like to have freedom in Christ? How do I get that? In my imagination I saw myself flying through the sky with Jesus next to me, but I knew my youth pastor could not have meant that.

As I continued to grow in my faith, I slowly realized that I didn’t understand so many of our regularly used Christian phrases and ideas, but I was too afraid of looking stupid to tell anyone. Instead, I became confused and began to doubt the things I thought I so strongly believed. These were things I had been hearing my whole life! How could I not know what they mean?

If I, someone who has grown up completely surrounded by biblical truth and Christian teaching, struggle to understand some of our “Christianese,” then imagine how someone who has grown up with no religious background must feel when they step into a church. These people or new believers probably have many moments of feeling like I did.

Eventually, when I got tired of trying to pretend like I knew what all these words and concepts meant, I did start to ask questions. I was blessed enough to have my questions received and answered with grace and wisdom by amazing mentors. But unfortunately, that’s not always how people with questions regarding their faith or Christianity are greeted.

I have heard too many times of non-believing friends who were shunned for their questions, and as a result, eventually left the Church. That is not what Christ intended for His people. The Church, more than any other place, should be a safe space to ask these questions.

So, whether you are someone who has questions or someone who has answers, as the Body of Christ, let us work to make the Church that safe place. Come to your pastors, elders, or fellow church-attenders with your questions. Do not let the fear of looking unintelligent or being rejected stop you from asking or growing in your faith!

And for those of us who receive these questions, let’s receive them with grace and understanding. No one should ever feel ashamed or embarrassed about having questions about God, the Bible, or anything else that is related to the kingdom of Heaven.

We are a spiritual community. We need each other to grow, and this is an important part of that process.