As a Preacher’s kid, I feel uniquely qualified to speak on the following subject, to wit, preacher-speak, that annoying foreign tongue employed in the pulpit and nowhere else on planet earth. I recently heard a sermon that could have served as a primary source for someone writing a Doctoral dissertation on the subject of preacher-speak. First, a definition:
Preacher-speak is the strange collection of arcane phrases, verbal tics, and butchered syntax that comes forth from the mouths of preachers, and then gets repeated on Saturday Night Live every time they do a skit making fun of religion.
Now, a few examples:
1. The magic word that transforms any simple declarative sentence into a question demanding a reply, the word “AMEN”. For example, “ It sure was cold this morning, AMEN?”, to which the audience feels compelled to either laugh, or answer back with “AMEN’s” of our own. This is a perfect example of a phrase that I have never heard uttered in a non-clerical conversation in my life, but am treated to ad-nauseam on Sunday mornings. Imagine sitting around with your friends watching Downton Abbey, and saying, “That Thomas is one conniving snake, AMEN?” I prefer my preachers to get their “”AMEN’s” the old fashioned way, by earning them! Say something profound, inspiring, illustrate an eternal truth with zeal and poignancy and you’ll get your AMEN. Otherwise, stop begging for them!
2. The word “church” being used instead of “ladies and gentlemen”, or “folks”. This is a relatively new construct first used by ministers of music,” Sing with me, Church”, but now co-opted by preachers. I understand that we, the body of believers are sometimes referred to as THE church, but to drop the pronoun makes the term sound corny and forced resulting in some tortured sentences, “It’s 2013, and I say it’s high time that the CHURCH act like the CHURCH, right CHURCH…AMEN?”
3. The famous, three syllable pronunciation of the word…BELOVED, or be-love-eddd. Again, when is the last time anyone has ever used this word, pronounced this way outside of a church building? “I call this meeting of the board of directors of XYZ company to order, and BE-LOVE-EDDD, we are losing money hand over fist!”
4. Then there’s the plethora of words and phrases meant to convey the familial quality that the church is supposed to have but often does not. Among them are, Brethren, church-family, and a new one I stumbled upon recently, loved ones. My personal opinion is that of you throw these types of descriptive words around about your church, you are compensating for something. And, BRETHREN? Seriously? What about SISTREN?
So, anyway, God bless all of our preachers out there who have a terribly difficult job. There exists no amount of money that would induce me to take their job. But, guys, do yourselves and the rest of us a huge favor. Lose the corny formulations and talk like normal people…AMEN?