Are you speaking Christianese?

Chris Forbes as a great article on the danger of speaking Christianease – you can read it here. Here’s a few of the highlights:

(Start Quote) Have you ever read copy in church advertisements like the lines below?

  • “Join us this Sunday for anointed Holy Ghost preaching, dynamic praise and worship and intimate fellowship in the body”
  • “At our church you will hear sound expository preaching on the doctrines of Grace”
  • “We exalt the Savior, equip the saints, and edify the servants!”
  • “Our church is a corporate outlet for truth-filled praise and worship!”

I can’t tell you how many church signs, brochures, worship bulletins, and websites I have seen that have sentences like those above. Much marketing coming out of churches today uses terms the general populace doesn’t understand.

We may know what words like, “exalt”, “equip”, and “anointed” mean, but what do these things mean to the people who have never or rarely been inside the walls of a church? (Personally, I am working on what “magnify” really means…it’s not about magnets, right?) For example, for many people the word “gospel” is not about the message of Jesus Christ, it’s a genre of music. You can’t help people understand the real meaning of the gospel, until you understand the people you want to reach.


5 Steps to Cleaning Up Your Church Marketing Language:

1. Start with your audience in mind: Instead of just brainstorming in your office how you want to creatively word your message, write copy with specific people in mind. If you define your audience more clearly and have a mental image of the people to whom you are speaking, the best vocabulary will emerge in your mind from understanding them.

2. Purge your copy of words that need to be explained: Be careful to use only terms that have a clear meaning to your target audience. Try using a thesaurus to find other ways of saying what you want to say.

3. Make your meaning plain: When you have to use a specialized term, define the meaning of the word in your copy.

4. Test your copy: Show your materials and concepts to people in your target audience to get their candid impressions and reactions to your writing. It’s not as hard as it sounds, just ask, most people would love to help. Say, “I am working on a writing project and I need another set of eyes, would you mind looking at what I have written and telling me if I am coming through clearly?”

5. Make a commitment to keeping church-speak out of your marketing materials: Help ministry leaders understand the value of clear communication and revisit church documents like mission statements, descriptions of ministries, expressions used from the platform, etc.

(End Quote)

Read the full article here and then go through your website, church signs, bulletins or promotional materials and remove all Christianese.  Now!


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About Nelson Searcy

Nelson Searcy is an experienced church growth strategist, pastor, church planter and coach, consulting with churches around the world. As founder of Church Leader Insights and the Renegade Pastors Network, he has personally trained more than 3,500 church leaders in over 45 denominations through live events, seminars and monthly coaching. Nelson is also the Founding and Lead Pastor of The Journey Church, with locations across New York City and in Boca Raton, FL. Nelson and his church routinely appear on lists such as “The 50 Most Influential Churches” and “The 25 Most Innovative Leaders.” He is the author of over 100 church growth resources and 18+ books, including The Renegade Pastor: Abandoning Average in Your Life, Ministry and The Difference Maker: Using Your Everyday Life for Eternal Impact, and At the Cross with the People Who Were There. He and his wife, Kelley, have one son, Alexander.

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