Unlearning ‘Christianese’

'It might surprise you how many people are interested in hearing about your faith journey and your God experiences when you share them honestly, clearly and humbly.' (Image by athree23/Pixabay)

“Christianese” is what some people call insider jargon Christians use to talk about God and faith. One of the primary problems with Christianese is that it doesn’t make sense to outsiders. Someone once compared it to legalese, which has its place and purpose, but is confusing and meaningless to people who aren’t lawyers. 

Speed sprayer

Photo credit: The Canadian Mennonite / Mennonite Archives of Ontario

Readers raised on fruit farms—including this archivist—may remember the high-pitched whine of an orchard pesticide sprayer in action. Pictured, Peter J. Sawatzky of Ruthven, Ont., is operating a “speed-sprayer” in his apple orchard.

Speak Jesus

(Image by Thomas B./Pixabay)

In the mid-1960s, Peter Berger and Thomas Luckman coined the phrase “the social construction of reality.” The phrase emphasizes that the world of power and meaning is created through the careful management and manipulation of social symbols.

Bethel Bible Institute

Photo: By Rudy Regehr / Mennonite Heritage Archives

Can you help identify these three men at Bethel Bible Institute (BBI)? Is John Poettcker in the centre? The formation of Bethel in Abbotsford, B.C., was proposed in 1937 at the ministers conference of the Conference of United Mennonite Churches of B.C.

Rhythms of reconciliation

'We can forgive and trust God’s healing power to transform our broken hearts.' (Image by succo/Pixabay)

My two-year-old has developed a habit of throwing his bowl across the kitchen when he’s finished his food. Sometimes it clears the dining area and we find it in the playroom with a messy trail of porridge!

Every time I tell him not to do it, he says, “I sorry, Mommy. I won’t.”

Credible Christians

'People who are sceptical of organized religion are actively seeking out insights on Jesus and spirituality from people who aren’t overtly affiliated with the church. People like Deepak Chopra, Oprah Winfrey, Russell Brand (pictured) . . . to name a few.' (Photo courtesy of Facebook.com/RussellBrand)

“People are no longer interested in religion or church, but they are still interested in Jesus.” This is a statement many Christians, including myself on occasion, proclaim confidently.

Walking a different path

Marlene Friesen of Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Abbotsford, B.C., enjoys a sunrise view of the Dead Sea during a walking tour of the West Bank last spring. (Photo by Albert Friesen)

Out for a late afternoon hike in the desert with a Bedouin host from our camp, we happened upon their camel herd. (Photo by Albert Friesen)

Hikers pass Mar Saba, a Greek Orthodox monastery founded in AD 483 and now considered one of the oldest inhabited monasteries in the world that still maintains many of its ancient traditions. (Photo by Albert Friesen)

Many of the valleys we walked through were carpeted with wild flowers. (Photo by Albert Friesen)

One of our fellow hikers speaks with a local shepherd comparing walking sticks and hiking poles! (Photo by Albert Friesen)

When we first started telling people we were going to hike the Masar Ibrahim Trail in the West Bank, Palestine, they were incredulous.

“You’re going where? You’re doing what?”

Helena Kruger's sewing class

Photo: Conference of Mennonites in Canada / Mennonite Pioneer Mission Photo Collection

According to CBC, Canadian households buy four times as much clothing as they did 30 years ago, and throw away 46 kilograms of clothing per year, of which 85 percent ends up in the landfill, where it creates greenhouses gases as it decomposes. We are addicted to cheap and cheaply made clothing, the report claims. Helena Kruger of Steinbach, Man., loved to teach sewing classes for many years.

Informed ethics

'Christian social scientists use the research-based tools of their trade to probe the issues of the day, then combine them with theological tools. Only together do they serve the goal of figuring out how to live so that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.' (Image by Tumisu/Pixabay)

A man saw the title of the book I was reading with my morning coffee. It was something religious-sounding, so he engaged me about faith. Eventually he asked what I did, and I said I teach at the nearby Christian university. I teach sociology. “Oh, sociology?” he said. “Then you can’t really be a Christian.”

Where heaven and earth meet

The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests is the largest building in the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China. (Image by Johannes Plenio/Pixabay)

The Temple of Heaven is one of my favourite places in China. It was the place where the emperor went several times a year to offer sacrifices and receive wisdom from the spiritual realm, in order to rule wisely. The temple, with its three-tiered, round, blue roof representing heaven, is surrounded by a square courtyard with green walls representing the earth.

Intentional with our time

'My husband and I have been very mindful of what we will fill our schedules with... We have time for father-son mountain biking, weekend morning Lego time, and running over to the neighbours to play with their kittens.' (Image by Alexas_Fotos/Pixabay)

With fall schedules now well underway, I sense the pressure of a “busy” lifestyle creeping in on our days and cramping our summer style. I’ve chatted with many friends who have hopped right into the overwhelming patterns of rushing out the door to yet another soccer practice or piano lesson.

How to talk about money at your church

'Christians give in grateful obedience to a generous God. Gratitude provides a wonderful pathway to the spiritual discipline of giving.' (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Christians give in grateful obedience to a generous God. Gratitude provides a wonderful pathway to the spiritual discipline of giving. God’s mercies to us are new every morning, and we have so much to be grateful for.

Imagine that one or two Sundays every month, someone from the congregation shares a moment of gratitude during worship. I’ll call the church Peach Blossom.

Revolutionary hospitality

'Radical hospitality became a central practice for the early church. Congregations intentionally welcomed those who were unwelcomed by others.' (Image by Alexas_Fotos/Pixabay)

When you search “hospitality” online, Google auto-fills with words like industry, services and tourism. You will find links to lodging, food and beverage establishments, entertainment and travel services, and hospitality management training institutions. What you don’t find, unfortunately, are links to Christianity or the church.

Finding spiritual fruits in Mennonite orchards

'We found that the sweetest spiritual fruit had grown in the Mennonite communities, so we wanted to plant that seed in our backyard.' (Image by Marco Roosink/Pixabay)

When Ly Vang was growing up on a farm in Laos, her family planted it own fruits, and her parents always said, ‘Whenever you eat fruit that tastes good, save the seed so you can plant it. That way you will have more delicious fruit!’


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