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A friend of mine refers to the Christian vocabulary as “stained glass words.” Others call it “Christianese.” These are the words you pick up when you're in church for a while. Sanctification, eschatology, soteriology, hermeneutics and homiletics are a few of the lighter ones from seminary-trained people. Then there are more common Christian vocabulary words like holiness, righteousness, salvation, glorification and exaltation. I don't know about you but my brain goes into a rolling blackout when I hear them. Can you tell I'm writing this in California?
There is nothing wrong with these words until you write for the unchurched. For example, as a teenager if someone said “righteous” then the next word I thought of was “brothers” as in Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield, “The Righteous Brothers.” Okay, I've dated myself a little, maybe a lot, but I hope you understand my point.
Avoid using stained glass words when you're writing to connect with unchurched people because these words can mean something entirely different to your readers. You see, if you write, “You can be covered by the blood,” then unchurched people may misunderstand and think you're talking about being attacked by a vampire or something weirder yet. I know this may seem extreme or humorous but it's awfully close to the truth in our unchurched culture.
Build your own thesaurus
A good writing practice is to take stained glass words and put them in every day words so everyone understands. Build your own thesaurus of stained glass words; then use your words when you write. You'll find your writing is more effective than ever. I know I did.
Write to the heart
God still speaks and He speaks to people's hearts. Yes, you can write stories that echo His voice and you can write to the heart without using stained glass words.
May God inspire your heart as you write. I believe God will as you write to inspire.
Copyright 2001 Glenn White