Updating Family Terminology
The Reboot Series - Part 13a of 20; May 2010
As part of our focus on making our approach more relatable to the people we are reaching and interacting with, it's important that we change or modify some of our Family terminology in order to be more clearly understood by others.
This matter was touched on in "Offensive Briefing #8," when Peter said: "We have developed terms and speech patterns in our Family lingo that we are very familiar with, but that aren't easily understood by others or wouldn't be very professional to use in our public interactions. It would be a good exercise to help each other to 'upgrade' by recognizing these when they occur in your daily speech, and attaching a more easily understood term to them."
Many of these Family terms are based on verses or Letters, but they don't always make sense to those who aren't Family members. Some of these terms are fine to use in appropriate circumstances, but generally would be better to replace with more widely understood terms. Some of the terms or words are linked to dated mindsets or context, and we want to eliminate those terms as much as possible.
In the alphabetical list that follows are Family terms that could be minimized or eliminated from our vocabulary, along with suggested replacement terms that are more commonly understood. This listing isn't comprehensive, but it contains some widely used terms in our vocabulary that would be worth replacing.
The term to be avoided in speech is listed first, followed by a suggested replacement(s). There is more than one way to express many of these terms. In some cases you'll probably think of a better replacement than what's listed here, or words that are more appropriate or common in your country, which is perfectly fine.
This isn't an official list of words or terms that Family members must use; it's simply a list of terms we want to use less or retire completely, and some alternatives you can consider.
- No replacement. Let's not judge or label people.
- Attack day
- Replacement: a fundraiser
- Babe (in the sense of a new member or new Christian)
- Replacement(s): new Family member or new Christian or new disciple (as the case may be)
- Become one
- Replacement(s): cultural integration, being culturally conscious/relatable/aware/sensitive
- Replacement(s): emotional difficulty, personal crisis, struggle, personal turmoil, troubles, adversity, the Lord working in one's life
- Burden (as in "I have a burden to do X.")
- Replacement(s): leading, desire (as in "The Lord is leading me to do X." Or, "I have the desire to do X.") (Note: The word "burden" should be used in the right context, according to the dictionary definitions: 1. something that is carried: load; 2. duty, responsibility; 3. something oppressive or worrisome; 4. the bearing of a load—usually used in the phrase beast of burden.)
- Check (as in "I got a check about X.")
- Replacement(s): Leading of the Lord, or, "The Lord reminded me of something," or "The Lord brought to mind."
- Consider the Poor (CTP)
- Replacement(s): charitable or humanitarian works, humanitarian aid/projects, community service, social projects
- Flee bag
- Replacement(s): emergency survival kit/bag, preparedness kit
- Flee fund
- Replacement(s): emergency financial reserves, contingency funds
- Replacement(s): exercise, workout, P.E. (for children). Or specify the exercise or sport; for example, running, cycling, soccer, football.
- Holy hole
- Replacement(s): adaptable or versatile person, jack of all trades
- Replacement: preteens/teens
- JJT/JJT time
- Replacement(s): chores, housekeeping, cleaning
- Kings and Queens (as in the case of someone supporting your work)
- Replacement(s): supporters, sponsors, patrons, benefactors, friends, associates, colleagues
- Litnessing, tapenessing, postering, tooling, etc.
- Replacement(s): Family product distribution or sales, witnessing, outreach
- Replacement: children (specify the age if necessary)
- NWO (need-work-on)
- Replacement(s): character weakness, weak area, bad habit, or describe the specific problem
- Replacement: preteens/children (depending on their age)
- Pow-wow (as in, "pow-wowing a movie")
- Replacement(s): group discussion; discussion of spiritual principles and life lessons
- (Note: The correct usage of "pow-wow," according to the dictionary, is a meeting; a conference [from an American Indian word].)
- Reach the rich
- Replacement: See "Updating Our Terminology: 'Reach the Rich.'"
- Romans (unless referring to individuals from ancient Rome)
- Replacement(s): police, officials, law enforcement, government, authorities, etc.
- (our usage of this word, which we understand to mean being a good reflection or representation of Jesus and Family beliefs and standards, is not correct; without further explanation, it will not be understood by those outside the Family.)
- Replacement(s): Set a good example of…, be a good reflection/representation/example of your faith or the Family; live according to your beliefs or a godly standard, etc.
- Selah trash
- Replacement: confidential material
- Spoil Egypt
- No replacement. We do not believe in "using" or taking advantage of anyone. We are trying to help people (both spiritually and practically) and bring them life-giving truth, not take.
- Replacement: Use an actual description of the person, or of their profession, or of your relationship to them, depending on the situation.
- (Note: "System" can be used correctly when referring to the world or society, or to "the financial system," but not in the sense of "anything that is not in/of the Family"; for example, "system music" or "a system job." The word "secular" could be used instead, if an adjective is needed. It would also be good to move away from using the terms "in the Family" and "out of the Family," and instead use terms like, "I'm a member of the Family" or "I ascribe to the faith of the Family," etc.)
- Replacement(s): Family products or their distribution; or specify the item that's being offered or sold: books, CDs, etc.
- Replacement(s): witness, missionary, evangelist, spiritual counselor, etc.
- Replacement: preschoolers/children
Other terminology tips
- We have used the word "date" when referring to sex, but in society at large it is used when referring to courting/going out with someone, or taking them to dinner or a movie/party, and doesn't necessarily include sex.
- Although you can use the word "meaty" to describe the Word of God, you will need to explain the Biblical background of that term in order for people to understand it. "Meaty" also has a definition of "interesting and thought-provoking: full of interesting and thought-provoking material"; for example, "he played a meaty role."
(Note: When there is a term that doesn't have a good replacement, explaining the background of that term, when necessary, may be the best solution.)
- Use "opposition" unless it is true persecution, as explained in "Opposition Equals Opportunity": "Persecution is generally defined as a determined effort to oppress a minority with ill-treatment, or to punish or silence. We can't equate every reverse, crisis, form of resistance, or negative response with persecution, nor should we respond to every instance of opposition the same as we would to persecution."
- The use of "shepherd" can be appropriate in some situations and countries, especially with Christians who understand the term and the meaning, as stated in the Bible. But it's not appropriate or understood in all situations. In some cases it would be better to use words like "coach," "mentor," or "counselor."
- Should refer to the sharing of material possessions or information only, not sexual interaction.
- This is often used when saying that a child is successful or a high performer. It would generally be better to focus on praising the performance and the achievement. For example, "You've excelled in your grades this year." Or, "You've been so well behaved today."
- Turned on
- To most people, this implies sexual excitement, so it would generally be inappropriate to say, for example, "He got turned on by us and our message." You could replace it with terms such as, "He was inspired by our message."
- Use "sexual intercourse" or "sexual relations" or "making love" or "sleeping together" or "sex" in place of "fuck." "Fuck" generally has a negative connotation in society, and is usually a curse word.
- Technically "mate" can be used correctly in place of husband/wife, as one of its definitions in the dictionary is "colloquial: partner in marriage." However, we have tended to overuse this word, and in many cases it would be more appropriate to use another word, such as spouse, partner, husband/wife, life partner, significant other, soul mate, etc. "Mate" isn't always understood to denote the same commitment in marriage as some of the other terms you could choose to use that are more broadly accepted. "Mate" also has other unrelated meanings, such as "breeding partners of animals," and it can also be used to refer to a good buddy or friend.
Relating people to animals and their characteristics, such as sheep, goat, wolf, snake. These terms are overused and can be inaccurate, as well as offensive. If necessary, it's usually better to describe the person's characteristics, depending on the situation. For example, instead of "sheepy," "spiritually receptive" would be a good way to say it.
- Word time
- While this can be explained to non-Family members, it's not widely understood, especially by those who aren't Christians; so in most cases it's better to use other terminology, such as devotions, Word study, reading God's Word, communing with the Lord, etc.
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