Sue Sweeney - February 17, 2019

Evangelism Jargon

Good News for a Change

Jargon is a really useful language shortcut for insiders, but it can be a real barrier for the uninitiated. When we share the good news of Jesus with others, how can we identify and remove our Christian jargon?

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Let me start with a question. How easy is it for you to explain to people outside of your work what is is you do at work? Is your job easy to describe or kind of difficult?

Some jobs don’t really need much explanation, like we know what a dentist or teacher does. People in other careers might have a little more explaining to do.

My husband, Jeff, for example, is the Senior Technical Support Coordinator and I’m an Academic Facilitator for Richardson school district. So, just based on the definition of those words, you might assume Jeff spends his time at work coordinating tech support and I spend my work days facilitating academics in schools. Like, I go to a school and say, “Hi. I’m Sue. I’m here to facilitate your academics.” Ok…sure…we could definitely be more specific.

If you’re also in the same field or industry I am, it’s much easier for me to explain what I do. For example, I might say,

I go to schools to support implementation of the TEKS Resource System and the disaggregation of data from CBAs, MOYs and Sims. I spend a lot of time helping PLCs and Admin plan their RTI.

So, some of my friends here who are in public education probably know what some of those words and acronyms mean. For those of you who do not work in education, I’m sure I would have to get into the weeds a little bit about what my day-to-day is like because, as I’m sure you noticed, there was a lot of jargon or in that description of what I do at work. In education, we have a lot of what outsiders might call “mumbo jumbo.” In fact, in meetings we sometimes joke that we should play “Lingo Bingo” to entertain ourselves during long presentations because it sees like every new thing in education comes with it’s own new set of jargon we have to learn.

It’s not just our jobs. Everything has jargon, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. We’re grateful for civil engineers who understand Modulus of Elasticity, whatever that means. I think it has something to do with making sure bridges don’t fall apart while we’re going over them. I don’t need to know what all their jargon means. I just need to know that THEY know what these words mean.

Learning jargon is also a necessary part of the learning process. When we’re teaching students in school, we often teach vocabulary words. It’s awfully difficult to teach and study Biology in high school without ever talking about mitosis and nucleotides.

Also, the more jargon you know, the more you feel like part of the community or group who uses that jargon. It can be a comforting feeling knowing you’re sharing a common language and vocabulary with others.

However, it can be problematic. In that same high school Biology class, it’s easy for jargon to become meaningless babble for students who struggle to understand all of the scientific terminology. Using these terms, in this case, can be a barrier to their understanding. It can cause the students to feel so frustrated, they just want to give up.

When we talk about faith, it’s tempting for just to lean on church jargon.

If jargon is a barrier to people outside our circles, then our Christian jargon can make it harder for people to understand Jesus’ good news. Let’s explore how to about Jesus jargon-free.

Join us Sunday as we learn how facing the pain of grief begins the process of healing.

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