We all know the British are renowned for subtext. Telling a group of friends that "I might join you later" roughly translates as: "you won't be seeing me again tonight." And "I'm fine" almost never, ever actually means, I'm fine.
There's a parallel issue in the church. We've not only developed a whole language register for the Christian community but we also use this jargon in order to appear more righteous and spiritual than we actually are, or to give our words more weight by spiritualising them. In no particular order, here are my worst offenders, and what I think they really mean.
(Disclaimer: Some Christians actually mean what they say, even when using one of these phrases. These are good people, and we should aspire to be like them. This article is not about them.)
1. I'm on a journey with that – I still quite enjoy doing that. I'd rather not completely give it up just yet, thanks.
2. Can you tell me a bit more about that so I can pray for them? – GIVE ME ALL THE GOSSIP!
3. I'm just letting the Bible speak for itself – I'm going to tell you what I think the Bible says.
4. God showed up – I felt God more tangibly. But also, my theology is terrible and ignores the idea of omnipresence.
5. God has laid this on my heart – I really want to do this! If I invoke God, it's really difficult for you to ignore it! (see also: 'God told me' and 'I feel / don't feel led')
6. In my quiet time this morning... – While I was on the bus this morning...
7. Could you prayerfully consider increasing your giving? – Help! The church has committed to a perhaps-overly-ambitious building project.
8. The way she's dressed is unhelpful – I have a serious objectification problem. My eyes!
9. He's totally Sold Out – He's gone a bit nuts. I'm a bit worried about him actually...
10. I need to stay relevant – I need a justification for watching Game of Thrones.
11. I'm exploring a new season – I really don't like my job.
12. I'm looking for a way I can best use my gifts to serve the church – I'm desperately trying to find the least awful thing on the rota.
13. God has given us a ministry of hospitality – I have a huge house. Please don't judge me.
14. #Praying – I'll pray for you in a minute, but I'm on twitter right now. Now I'm scrolling. Now I've forgotten to pray for you.
Martin Saunders is an author, screenwriter, and the Deputy Chief Executive of Youthscape. Follow him on Twitter @martinsaunders