The words we use

We all know that words have power.

Words can be used to hurt or heal. Why not shift to healing words in your congregation?

Look for broad, inclusive terms.

When we assume “husband” and “wife,” we marginalize many people. We can shift to more inclusive words by saying “partner,” “spouse,” or “in a committed relationship” and include singles (we can sometimes overlook them.)

Families come in all shapes, sizes and formations. Rather than asking children about their moms and dads, ask them about their “family.” In that way, you can include families headed by moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas, uncles and aunts, and you will free the children from having to explain themselves.

Keep listening to your language and see where you can expand its embrace by avoiding gender-specific terms and reliance upon pronouns.

Often the best approach is to lovingly ask and not to assume.

Listen and hear…

Allow conversations and discussions to flow from a new place. Too often our brains get in the way of truly connecting. Speak from your heart! Yes, it sounds cliché, but it is the language of imagination and deep meaning that will allow us to hear and be heard.

St. Francis advised us, “Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary, use words!” It is our experience, our life, our stories, that will highlight commonality and diminish the sense of isolation. Our truth is hard to deny.


Need clarification on what some terms mean?  Check out our Glossary.