Tired of Being Trite: One Pastor's War On Ministry Clichés
Six steps that stop me from dumbing down the gospel (when I remember to follow them).

TRITE /trīt/ (Adjective) Overused and consequently of little import, lacking originality or freshness.

It’s easy to become trite when you’re a pastor.

After all, we’re in constant output mode. Whether we’re preaching, teaching, comforting or just hanging out (you may know it as fellowship), we talk a lot.

It’s not always easy to know the right thing to say, so most of us give in to the temptation to find a handful of clichés and repeat them at regular intervals – even if we don’t realize we’re doing it.

Not everything we say can be original, of course. As Solomon reminded us, there’s nothing new under the sun.

But that’s never an excuse to be trite.

Pastoral triteness often involves the use of “Christianese” – insider lingo that means nothing to others and stops meaning much to us after constant, thoughtless repetition.

In response to that, we’re often told we need to stop using old, worn-out phrases. I agree with that. I’ve fought a war on “Christianese” (ironically a very Christianese word) for decades.

But when we try to be new and cool, sometimes we’re just trading the triteness of one generation for the triteness of the next. Or the triteness of the christian culture for the triteness of the non-christian culture.

When we try to be new and cool, sometimes we’re just trading the triteness of one generation for the triteness of the next.

My War On Triteness

As ministers of the Gospel, let's stop dumbing down the Gospel in the way we speak.

After all, we serve a God who is anything but trite.

We read about him in a book of such profound depth and wisdom that people spend their entire lives studying it, while standing on the shoulders of generations of wise, godly teachers. Yet at the end of a lifetime of ministry we'll all discover that we barely scratched the surface.

When people come to church to hear us expound on the depths of this extraordinary book, many times we are guilty of offering them worn-out Christian clichés or trivial platitudes.

When people face deep suffering, we have something that can really help them navigate their painful way through it. But too often we offer them feel-good sayings instead of the profoundly deep, soul-soothing anguish of the Psalms.

We are followers of Jesus. The least trite, most profound thinker and speaker who ever lived. Someone who could put more deep truth into a single sentence than all the “original” words I will utter in my life. And who backed up every word with even more profound actions.

Support our work. Subscribe to CT and get one year free.

Join in the conversation about this post on Facebook.

Recent Posts

Read More from Karl

Follow Christianity Today

Free Newsletters

More Newsletters ...