Personal Stories, Spiritual Abuse

List of Christian Expressions or Phrases that Are Churchy or Christianese that can Trigger Negative Church Experiences



Popular phrases or expressions heard in Christian churches or groups that now identify as “churchy” or Christianese and now sometimes annoy the heck out of those of us who have been hurt in church.



photo credit: Joshua Daniel O. via photopin cc


This is Sunday and some of you/us may have difficulty going to church for a number of reasons. The other day I was at praise and worship practice and heard an expression that I realized embodied churchy lingo. The leader asked for us all to gather for a “word of prayer.” A word of prayer? Why “a word?” Prayer consists of a lot of words.  Anyway, it was just an expression that just smacked of Christianese.  It made me wonder why we have strange lingo that outsider might not understand? Why do we have to be so “churchy?”

And then I was thinking about the fact that some church phrases annoy me for other reasons.  Here’s one: “with every head bowed and every eye closed.” Why did they want all of us to close our eyes? What was going on in the church when my eyes were closed? I had to know. Sometimes that phrase doesn’t bother me, but at other times, it does. It takes me back to a time in my childhood at an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist church that was quite legalistic.  I got in trouble because my dress was too short. I was very tall and growing like a weed. My mom worked full-time and it was hard for her to find clothes to fit me. I felt humiliated and embarrassed, so sometimes, when I hear that phrase, it takes me back to that time and it feels very uncomfortable. I wish that phrase never existed. It really isn’t necessary to have every head bowed and eyes closed. That’s just extra nonsense.

I thought of a few more that might yield similar results:

Accept Jesus as your personal Savior

Ask Jesus in your heart

Let’s have a word of prayer

Offering plate



Do you have any more phrases or words to add to this list?  What are some phrases or words that are churchy to you?  Do you have some that trigger bad memories or feelings?


206 thoughts on “List of Christian Expressions or Phrases that Are Churchy or Christianese that can Trigger Negative Church Experiences”

    — Emerson Lake & Palmer, “Karn Evil Nine”


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