I love the story of code talkers. During WW2 Native Americans were recruited to send messages across radio waves in the Cherokee language. Anyone who did not grow up deeply imbedded in the Cherokee nation would never be able to translate the message into German, therefor the allies had an unbreakable code.
Very few folks still speak Cherokee today. The elders of their tribe are trying desperately to keep this language alive but sadly, fewer and fewer of the young Native Americans are interested in learning this ancient way of speaking, but unlike the Spanish or French languages, it is a very hard language to learn. (did I mention the Germans tried to learn Cherokee but never got it?).
In much the same way, we elders, ordained and lay, stubbornly refuse to let go of the ancient language of our Christian church. We want to teach the history and tradition of the church which is a good thing but we insist on teaching, preaching, and doing our liturgy in words that are as difficult as any in the Cherokee language. Not difficult for us, mind you, we grew up imbedded in an ancient church culture, but for the newcomers, the seekers, those who have never or rarely ever attended worship service. People are on a search for meaning but the established church has little chance with them because we are speaking a form of Christian Cherokee.
I humbly offer the following as an attempt to translate from the equivalent of Christian Cherokee into understandable, modern day English;
sin and forgiveness..... addiction and recovery,
redemption and grace....... second, third, fourth, fifth chances (you get the picture) or do overs
conversion..... 180 degree turn around. Head one way, about face, and head the opposite way.
faith.... live life 'as if' something is true.
faith in Jesus.... do what Jesus tells us to do. Doesn't matter if you like it or not.
repentance .... I am truly sorry and I am not just saying that to get out of this tight spot. I will never do it again. (see that 180 degree turn around thing)
Trinitarian formula.... not father, son and holy spirit, not creator, redeemer, and sustainer but God is a mystery and will show up in whatever way you most need for that moment and time.
kingdom of God on earth..... Everyone on this planet treating all persons with dignity and respect
It is with joy that I come before you. It is a blessing and a privilege, and an honor to be with you.... thanks for having me.
(And for us Methodists,) moving on to perfection.... getting my life in alignment with dignity and respect for all persons.
This is not a comprehensive list, just a starting place. Change some of these or add your own. Get creative but for God's sake, stop using language that is at best unhelpful and at worst, misleading. No more Christian code talking Talk to be understood so we can fulfill our purpose, to make new disciples of Jesus for the transformation of the world.