A beginner's guide to Christianese

How to do life, speak a word and love one

Have you ever gone to a new church and suddenly wondered: “What language are these people speaking?” They might be speaking in tongues, or they might just be speaking Christianese.

Christianese is a language spoken by Christians all around the world. Some people may not even realise they’re speaking it and it also can be bewildering to someone who’s not fluent. So, here are some common Christianese phrases to get you started:

Doing Life (Pentecostal)

“Doing life” means spending time with someone in an authentic way. Think of it as “life”, just in verb form.

Sitting under the Word of God (Anglican)

This puzzling phrase means accepting biblical teaching without reservation. Imagine that God’s word is like a tree and you’re sitting under it, letting it drop whatever fruit it wants onto your head.

Speaking a word (Pentecostal)

“Speaking a word” means giving someone a message straight from God. How do you know that it’s really from God? Just be confident and go for it.

Cover this place with your blood (Evangelical)

This phrase isn’t a war cry, or a call to a massacre. It’s asking God to share his grace on the people around you; the blood references Jesus’ death on the cross.

Gift of singleness (Evangelical)

“The gift of singleness” is the belief that you should live a life of celibacy in order to serve God. The word ‘gift’ can be used ironically.

Seamless garment of life (Catholic)

This phrase, popularised by Catholic Bishop Joseph Bernardin, refers to the sanctity of all human life, and is based on the seamless cloak Jesus wore when he was crucified.

Love on (Pentecostal)

“Love on” means showing care, concern and platonic affection. It’s a phrase that lots of people love to hate on, as the addition of the word ‘on’ seems unnecessary. Would it not be sufficient to just use the word “love”?

Leave room for the Holy Spirit (Baptist)

“Leaving room for the Holy Spirit” is being willing to improvise. It also refers to maintaining physical distance from a person of the opposite sex, particularly while dancing.

Let’s reflect on that (Catholic)

This phrase means it’s time to be quiet and think about what you’ve just heard. It’s a great opportunity to think deeper about the issue. Or to just tune out.

Extra Grace Required (Evangelical)

“Extra Grace Required,” or EGR, is a polite term for someone who requires higher levels of patience and care. Being called an EGR is probably a big part of why they require more patience and care.

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