So tell me, does this sentence sound normal to you?
“In our efforts to live intentionally as an authentic community of believers, we seek out the small-group dynamics of passionate discipleship.”
If you answered no, Thank God.
If you answered yes, it’s highly likely that you are a regular church attender, and your life, your vocabulary, and your walk as a Christian have been infiltrated by contemporary pulpit-speak, kind of along the lines of an Oregon wheat field being contaminated by genetically modified wheat.
I don’t know where the gurus at the top are getting this language — oh wait, maybe I do: 21st century corporate business, education, and government — but an increasing number of Christians are earnestly talking about “being authentic,” “intentionally living,” and “moving forward with passion.”
I am so, so, so glad that Jesus didn’t speak this way.
I would so, so, so appreciate it if Christians would stop doing so.
It’s so . . . obsequious somehow to abjectly emulate the abstruse speech of superintendent hegemony in the effort to convey simple truths. How ironic that, when we want to say, “I seek to be real, genuine, and approachable,” we express it with the term, “effective authenticity.”
Does anybody outside of the group — or even inside of it, actually — understand this term, whether they’re living intentionally or not?
(And as a side note, what does it look like to live unintentionally? Does that mean that you’re dead?)
I don’t know much about ancient Aramaic, the language that Jesus spoke while He was on this earth, but judging by its translation into English, Jesus talked in a fairly straightforward manner, frequently conveying simple yet complex ideas by telling stories. Proper and improper group dynamics, something so vital in contemporary churches, meant little to a Savior who interacted with people one on one, looking deep into their souls and beyond externals like tattoos, rough language, or whether or not their bra strap was showing.
It really didn’t matter to Jesus that he sounded erudite and smooth; He wasn’t concerned that followers would drop away if He didn’t use PowerPoint; He never wore a three-piece suit — and yes, I know that they didn’t exist then.
What did matter to Him was a strong, central, unwavering message: “God loves you. So much that you can’t possibly comprehend the magnitude of that love. Accept that love. It’s real.”
Now, how are we, as Christ’s followers, going to convey that message to the people around us? While words matter, actions matter more, and the first step is to bask in, believe, and soak up Christ’s love into our own souls, so that we can pass it on to others by being loving ourselves.
The second is to be real — not authentic, not intentional, not incomprehensible by relying upon weak, corporate-based vocabulary to essentially say nothing.
But real. Ourselves. Using language that fits who and what we are, not copying pseudo-speak that gives the illusion of intelligence and perspicacity.
And lest you get me on the last word of the last paragraph, I really do talk that way, being one of the few people — actually the only people — I know who uses the word “obfuscate” in ordinary speech, but if it’s any help, I tend to mispronounce it.
It’s unintentional. Ah, at last, the word used sensibly.
As Christians, we will always seem weird to people who are not, but let it be for the right reasons: because we touch the untouchables, speak out and speak up for what is right and honest and good, make decisions based upon principle as opposed to monetary gain.
Not because we obfuscate.
If you want to learn to write — and speak, more clearly, check out my book Grammar Despair: Quick, simple solutions to problems like “Do I say him and me or he and I?” $8.99 paperback and $5.99 digital at Amazon.com.
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