When you hear the phrase "old barn," a variety of images may come to mind depending on your experience. The image may be from your childhood when you and a friend explored an abandoned farm. Maybe you have no first-hand knowledge of an old barn, but your recent reading in Architectural Digest on what they are doing with old barns was fascinating. The image may come from TV or the recent movie Cold Mountain. But most people have some reference point for the phrase "old barn."

What is true of "old barn" is true of the language we use in Christianity. Words carry all sorts of definitional freight, and we can't assume our words conjure up the same images in everyone's minds.

Most people know what a barn is, but what about "gospel," "conversion," "church membership," or the myriad other words unique to the church? What are we hoping they think when we say these words in a weekend talk for instance? (Notice I didn't say "sermon.")

We need some dialogue on the Christian lexicon. Many of the ...

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