Jargon and Jibonkin’

Written by Dianne E. Butts

“What a biff!’

“You are showin’ off for that Shred Betty.”

“I got so stoked I started flailin’. The next thing I knew, I was jibonkin’ across the picnic tables!”

I wonder what they’re talking about, I thought, eavesdropping on the conversation between two young men in line at a fast food restaurant.

“I almost hit that dinosaur,” one continued.


“No way, dude. I saw that two-planker eat it,” the other said.

Eat what? The dinosaur?

“It’s duck soup out there,” the first said.

Dinosaurs and duck soup? Whatever, I thought. Their bizarre conversation caught my curiosity, but their strange words proved more than I could figure out.

I wonder how often those outside the church feel that way when they hear Christians talk. If we hope to communicate with non-Christians about Christ, we must learn to speak to them in a language they can understand. Here are some ways we can weed Christian jargon out of our conversation:

Identify jargon

1. Pray, asking God to make us sensitive to jargon terms.

2. Imagine we’re foreigners. What words would baffle us? Which phrases might we not understand?

3. When we’re grappling for a word, notice what term we “stick in”: Bless? Grace? Mercy? I’ve learned I use jargon when I’m tired or in a hurry and don’t have the energy or time to figure out what word I really want.

4. Notice if our listener “shuts down.” If I lose my listener’s eye contact and his or her mind seems to wander, then–if I consider what I just said–I often realize I’ve used a jargon term like “sin” or “saved.” I’ve found many people will listen to Christian truths when I avoid using terms laden with religious connotations.

Find alternative words and phrases

1. Check a dictionary, Bible dictionary, or thesaurus for alternate terms.

2. Check word origins or meanings in the original language.

3. Study how Scripture communicates the term.

4. How did Jesus teach the concept?

Leaving jargon behind is hard, but if we practice communicating without it when we talk with God and with our Christian friends, then we will have alternate words and phrases in mind when we talk with others.

So what, you may ask, is “jibonking?” Why it’s jargon, of course! The two young men in the restaurant were snowboarders.

Here’s a lesson in their lingo:

To “biff”, “slam”, or “eat it” means to crash. “Loble-dee” refers to the stars you see after the biff. “Ride”, of course, is snowboarding and “flailing” is doing so embarrassingly poorly. “Shred” or “shredding” refers to an aggressive rider and a “Shred Betty” is the female of the species. Snowboarders get “stoked” rather than excited. A “dinosaur”, “duck”, or “Two-planker” refers to a skier and “duck soup” means the slopes are crowded with them. “Jibonking” refers to riding a snowboard on any substance other than snow: decks, car tops, garage cans, and, of course, picnic tables.

Christian jargon thesaurus

  • Instead of: bless, blessed, blessing
    Try: God showing His favour, guarding protecting; a special gift or revelation
  • Instead of: born again
    Born spiritually, made spiritually alive
  • Instead of: Christ, Messiah, Saviour
    Try: Jesus; the person God promised to send to pay the penalty for what we do wrong
  • Instead of: Christian
    Try: One committed to living the way God wants us to, one who trusts or relies on Jesus
  • Instead of: faith
    Try: Knowledge of God, understanding that God is working; reliance on God
  • Instead of: glorify God, bring Him glory
    Try: To honor God
  • Instead of: gospel, gospel message
    Try: The good news about Jesus; the truth God wants us to know or teach; God’s message to the world
  • Instead of: grace, the grace of God
    Try: Unmerited favour, unearned love; God giving us what we don’t deserve (see “mercy”)
  • Instead of: invitation, alter call
    Try: Opportunity to commit to Christ
  • Instead of: Jehovah, Yahweh, the great I AM
    Try: God, the Lord
  • Instead of: lost, the lost
    Try: Those people who have not yet determined to believe or follow Christ
  • Instead of: mercy
    Try: God not giving us what we do deserve (see “grace”)
  • Instead of: minister
    Try: Tend to others on Jesus’ behalf; teach about Jesus
  • Instead of: pray, prayer
    Try: To talk or converse with God; conversation with God
  • Instead of: redeem, redeemed
    Try: Ransom; to pay a price to regain possession
  • Instead of: regenerate
    Try: Be born spiritually; reborn
  • Instead of: repent, repentance
    Try: To turn away from a past action; to change one’s mind about a former practice; to commit to not do it again
  • Instead of: sacrifice, redeeming sacrifice, Jesus died in our place, blood sacrifice, Christ’s sacrifice
    Try: Jesus died in our place
  • Instead of: sanctified, sanctification
    Try: Set apart by God; set apart for God’s use, pleasure, or purpose; purified, made holy
  • Instead of: save, saved, salvation
    Try: Delivered from spiritual death, rescued, to keep from being lost; made right in God’s eyes; made acceptable to God
  • Instead of: sin
    Try: To act against or contrary to God’s desire for us; to do what God doesn’t want us to do; to break God’s rules; to disobey God
  • Instead of: spiritual, spiritually
    Try: Affecting the eternal part of a person
  • Instead of: testimony
    Try: Telling what God has done in one’s life
  • Instead of: washing in the blood
    Try: Covered, made clean before God because of Jesus’ sacrifice
  • Instead of: with the blood of Christ
    Try: acceptable to God because Jesus paid God’s required penalty for us
  • Instead of: witness
    Try: To tell or give testimony to what God has done; to know by personal experience.

One Response to “Jargon and Jibonkin’”

  • La says:

    This is so good.. I printed it, because I speak to small groups of 6,7 and 8th grade students one day a week. It will come in handy while speaking w/ my family and my kids also. I may attempt to write my own testemony using some of these terms. Thank you.

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