When you first start attending a church, you occasionally hear long-time attenders make jokes about a second language many churchgoers across the nation apparently speak: Christianese.
I’ve always been a part of a church that is on a keen lookout for these words and works to eradicate them from our vocabulary so as to be more inviting to people. Having a secret language is probably one of the least inviting things in any social environment, and if we are not inviting at church, then what’s the point? Back-patting and encouraging one another is great, but if we really believe what we say we believe, we need to be sharing our faith and if we aren’t creating an inviting environment, how can we share?
Whoa. Getting fired up. I digress. Back to the point… I have only recently become fluent in Christianese as my role in ministry has changed and I interact with all sorts of churches.
Part of Christianese is when you use a word that means something in secular society for something totally different inside the church. Christianese is also a set of vocabulary that isn’t used outside the church.
Here are two examples:
Fellowship (n) – This means to camaraderie or the status of being a “fellow” in a college or society. In church, it means being together with other people who believe in Jesus. Here’s the crazy thing about how its used in Christianese: it can be a verb! I can fellowship with someone or a group of people. It seems that “fellowshipping” only happens when groups of Christians are together. Maybe secular society (perhaps in some academic fellowships) uses the word as a verb, too, but I’ve never heard it.
Wreck (or more often wrecked) (v): This means to damage something so badly it cannot be repaired. In church, to wreck or be wrecked refers to being strongly convicted. I’m not a linguist, so providing definitions is tough. Here it is in a sentence: “God really wrecked me when I learned how many people live in extreme poverty and what the church could do about it.” The person saying this means that when they heard how the church could impact people in extreme poverty, they were really convicted to do something about it.
There are tons of examples of Christianese out there. Some are logical. Some are hysterical. Some are really hard to not get addicted to using.
Anyway, that was just a really long intro to what I really want to write about. This past weekend, I was at a, let’s say, more traditional Christian church. I wore khakis and a collared shirt as opposed to the jeans and black t-shirts I wear at Revolution (or The Foundry, etc. etc.). After church, I was in the Fellowship hall (the place in the church designated for fellowshipping). I was fellowshipping with some people at the church and got wrecked.
It didn’t really have anything to do with the fellowship. My brain’s almost always somewhere else a little bit (sorry) and something someone said triggered a John Maxwell quote in my mind along the lines of leadership being influence.
I love being a leader. I truly believe I was built, psychologically/emotionally, the way I am built so that I can be a leader. And yet, recently I haven’t felt like a leader because who am I leading?
When I stepped away from Revolution, I stepped away from a title and platform that gave me influence. Now, I don’t have that and I am building a new platform at Stadia.
I’ve been kind of feeling sorry for myself that I’m trying to lead, but it doesn’t feel like its working. I’ve been feeling envious of some friends who have been “fellowshipping” with other leaders learning how to be better leaders.
But this weekend, I realized that I just have to keep on keeping on. I have to keep building my platform at Stadia. I have to lean into the influence I do have and trust that God will grow it. I can waste time mourning the past, or I can take the lessons I learned there and implement them moving forward.
I’m going to try to do the latter. Later today, I’ll be leading a Local Group for Revolution. Self-pity and envy were preventing me from leading. They blinded me to the ways I am supposed to be leading.
What’s blinding you and preventing you from doing what you’re suppose to be doing?