Clancy Cliché—The Person Who Uses Jargon

How to draw a specific answer out of someone who's fluent in Christianese.

Clancy Clich has a well-worn answer for everything. He's full of jargon, especially Christianese, and seldom conveys much of anything. He's quick to offer a pious non-answer, but you can't get him to delve deeply enough beneath the surface to respond with a meaningful answer. He always has advice for people with prayer requests, and it's usually something like, "Just trust and obey and everything will turn out OK." You wish you could hide behind the nearest bush! How can you reach Clancy?

Ask for clarification. Especially if Clancy grew up in the church, he may have cut his teeth on phrases like "saved by the blood," "justification," "the throne of grace," and "propitiation." Maybe he knows what they mean; maybe he doesn't. The best way to find out is to ask for clarification. Say, "Could you expand a bit more on that, Clancy? How does taking our requests to the throne of grace apply to this question?" or, "When you say we're justified by faith, what does that mean to you?" You may need to ask several follow-up questions before you get an answer that most of the group understands. This may seem tedious, but you're also modeling the type of answer you want. Hopefully as the group goes on, Clancy and all the members will respond with more definitive answers.

Explain why it's important to give concrete responses. The whole group may need to understand why you continue to probe when someone responds with jargon or a cliché. Say, "You may wonder why I ask for clarification on so many responses. It's because I really want to make sure that we are all understanding one another. Sometimes when we give an answer that's too familiar, different people understand it in different ways. I want to be sure that we understand each ...

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