“Missional…….is that a tire or something?”

This one hits me personally since I am in seminary and we speak “Christianeeze” everyday. Christianeze or Christianeeze is a completely made up word just like many of those that we use within Christendom. Usually we define words as we introduce them into culture but lately we have been becoming lazy. Let me give you an example. A few years back, I was sitting in a local coffee shop amongst friends discussing how we can help improve discipleship within our context (darn-it I did it again, stupid buzz words) area at church.  We were talking about a piece that will help us to communicate how strategy for spiritual growth in our church (mainly because every church is different). As we sat there 3 words seemed to emerge as the focus on conversation, which centered around the clarity of the piece.
The 3 words were:

  • Missional
  • Relational
  • Transformational

I assumed that we each understood what was being communicated but objected because I realize (not all of the time) that the language that I speak isn’t always palatable to most people. So we were discussing and the question came, “Missional….. is that a tire or something?” At that very moment I realized something, I realized how absolutely, completely, ridiculous, I sound when I use terms that are not used in common vernacular and also not defined.
The word “Missional” or the term “Missional living” are Christian terms that describe

“a missionary lifestyle; adopting the posture, thinking, behaviors, and practices of a missionary in order to engage others with the gospel message”.

The use of this term has gained recent popularity due to the Emerging church movement to contrast the concept of a select group of “professional” missionaries, with the understanding that all Christians should be involved in the Great Commission of Jesus Christ. If you don’t like that definition then try this one,

“Missional” is an adjective describing all of the activities of the church body as they are brought under the mission of God (Missio Dei) to proclaim the good news of salvation through His Son Jesus Christ.

See what I mean this is silly, but this is the language of the modern Church…I think. So here is what I would like for you to do, when you are finished reading this help me out. I know that there are so many Christianeze words out there let me know what some of them are and provide a definition. Please don’t get me wrong, when the Apostles in the New Testament introduced a word within the common language they defined it, there is not an instance where a new word is given without an explicit definition. I want so badly for Christians to engage culture and affect it in a way that we all joyfully submit to Christ, but if the culture that we are engaging does not understand the words coming from our mouths then they may never come to understand the truth of Jesus Christ. Just think about it.


About Jon Nelson

I am just a nobody trying to tell everybody about Somebody [Christ Jesus]!

Posted on December 11, 2009, in ...from Jon, Missional, Theology. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Good call Jon. Christianese is all too easy to fall into when you have friends around you that understand and use the terms themselves. I have a few that come to mind:

    “Hedge of Protection”. This is rarely heard outside of prayer, but still it contributes to the idea of “uncommon, undefined terms or phrases”. I think this one might be somewhere near the top of phrases used because it makes prayers sound more eloquent (Matthew 6:7)

    “Saved” or “Redeemed”. Though these are both words everyone would be familiar with to some extent, the meaning that we intend when we use them about Christianity is almost certainly lost when simplified to either of these words. I propose using “Rescued” or (if the depth of the conversation allows) a longer explanation.

    Last, but not least – and this is a good one – “sin”. Again, this word is not likely to be unfamiliar to whomever you may be talking to, but the way they understand it could be a million different ways. I’ve noticed that there seems to be a stigma about the word “sin” that is closely associated with why people think all Christians are hypocrites. “Oh they don’t like me because I sin too much.” Or they may define sin as “what disqualifies me from God liking me.”

    It’s great to think about redefining the terms that keep us from communicating properly our love for the Lord and His for us to a hurting world.

  2. So I assume you are against returning to Latin terminology? (only joking…then I wouldn’t get to use all the fun German words.)

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