As a writer, I spend my days playing with words. This also means I spend too much time – usually when I’m writing a first draft – watching cat videos, rearranging my cabinets, thinking about what to make for dinner, and watching the squirrels re-enact West Side Story outside my window.
When I’m not watching Tony Squirrel woo Maria Squirrel, I do try to pay close attention to how people use words. Language is a living thing. I’m fascinated by the lists of words that have become tired, lazy clichés. The business world loves its motivational bits of jargon. I guarantee that telling your coworkers you’re going to tee up the discussion about switching filter vendors at the wastewater treatment plant will not make your 3:45 p.m. meeting any more exciting.
The sports world loves its clichés. Here’s hoping that your high octane defense will turn up the intensity and dig deep…really deep…so they can play like they’re capable of playing. Or something.
Though I like and use groovy pop culture lingo, sometimes silly fadspeak can make me cray-cray.
I write for the church, and you know we have our own slang-y jargon. A couple of years ago, too many painfully relevant, authentic young pastors dreamed OUT LOUD EVERY STINKIN’ SUNDAY MORNING about making an impact with a smokin’ hot bride at their side. Mercifully, that trend seems to be abating a bit. I thought I’d share a few words or phrases I’ve been hearing a little too frequently at church lately:
Dive Into/Dive Deep/Do A Deep Dive – As in, “Today’s sermon will be a deep dive into an authentic conversation about the golden hemorrhoids“. Usually, this is a bit of overselling. When a preacher tells me we’re going to dive deep into a Scripture passage, we usually waterski instead.
Rightsize – “If you want to rightsize your spiritual life, try this.” In business, rightsizing means laying off employees and closing branches. But when I’ve heard a pastor say it, it means putting more time/focus/effort into spiritual practices or works of service.
Pumped, Amped – “I’m really pumped to give this message today.” Self-report, circa 1997.
Resource (verb) – “We want to resource you with this fourteen part sermon series on the book of Obidiah.” Not to be confused with
Resource (noun) – “It’s time for the weekly offering, where our members give of their resources to the work of the church.” When the pastor gives a sermon, he or she is resourcing you. When you give to the church, you are returning a portion of your finances to God. See the difference?
Gospel (adjective) – This isn’t a new word, but it is popular in certain circles to use this word in place of the word “Christian” as a descriptor. “Our church is committed to gospel ministry.” These words work best when they’re nouns, not branding statements for the nouns they’re highlighting.
Treasure – “We treasure the gospel here.” Thumbs up for use of the word ‘gospel’ as a noun. Thumbs down for overuse of this word in certain (gospel) circles to demonstrate that you’re not playing church up in here.
Unpack – Stop it. Just stop it.
Bandwidth – Uttered while waving iPad with overscheduled schedule in view for all to see, “I don’t have the bandwidth to do a hospital visit today.”
We’re all prone to grab on to popular, slangy words. (Amirite?) I do it. But I think it’s helpful to step back once in a while and do a little gentle self-reflection, especially if we’re holding a microphone…or a pen. Hey readers, if you see me overusing a tired phrase, I give you permission to call me on it. Pretty please.
What clichés are you hearing in your work or church?
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