In case you didn’t know, CMS Summer School has started.
As you read that first sentence, many of you will have no idea what CMS is or be confused as to why people are going to a ‘Summer’ ‘School’ in the middle of winter (or perhaps why ‘I’ am using so many ‘single’ quotation marks ***).
Well let me explain. CMS is the short name for an organisation called the Church Missionary Society. The ‘School’ is located in the Blue Mountains, Australia and each year at the beginning of January (summertime in the Southern hemisphere) they run a weeklong conference promoting and praying for “A World that knows Jesus”.
I didn’t grow up doing this, so at first, the idea of turning up to what is effectively a very large camp-site with several thousand other Christians to sing, worship, pray and listen to Bible and Mission talks was a little strange, but having been here a few years, I now can’t imagine a better way to start the year.
However I am often left wondering by some of the jargon and assumed knowledge that some Christians use (also known as ‘Christianese’).
Before I go any further, let me just say that all organisations, groups, and professions have jargon and while there are many reasons for it such as belonging, control, pride, protection, or aesthetics, jargon is not necessarily a bad thing. Some specific terms are needed by any group to describe what they do and how they differ from others. How else do you talk about Jesus, sin, sacrifice, life, blood, death, and heaven without using those words?

However jargon is something that sneaks up on you, a bit like twerking did in 2013, and once released, it is almost impossible to be contained.

So to make things interesting, or perhaps more interesting than what they already are, I decided to create a scorecard, with a special focus on the jargon (though not exclusively on the jargon).
It is not a criticism or a complaint of the CMS Summer School (because many of the things on the list are there because I have done them myself or they have come out of my own mouth, James 3:10), but more as a bit of fun. It is meant to be something you can fill out as you go, or from memory of what has already passed.

(And to keep with the theme of this post, some of the items on the list below are terms, phrases and in-jokes that only those at the conference will understand).
Ready to play?
The Surviving CMS Summer School scorecard
  1. The word “missional” is used = 1 point
  2. A different form of the word “missional” is used (eg. missionally, missionalisation, missionalification) = 3 points
  3. You hear someone getting “stuck into”, or “digging deeply” into God’s word = 2 points
  4. You hear God’s word being “unpacked” = 1 point
  5. A missionary is referred to as a ‘misho’ = 1 point
  6. The phrase “audience of One”, “quiet times” or “comfort zone” is used = 1 point
  7. The phrase “comfort zone” is used in the context of living within it = 4 points
  8. The person up the front says “Is this microphone on?” and everyone hears it clearly = 1 point
  9. You hear someone make an audible affirmation during a Bible talk (eg. Hmmm, Ah-Huh, Amen) = 1 point
  10. You make an audible affirmation during a Bible talk = 3 points
  11. You hear someone answer a rhetorical question during a Bible talk = 1 point
  12. You answer a rhetorical question during a Bible talk = 3 points
  13. You have a ‘heated’ discussion with someone about why CMS is sending missionaries to rich European countries = 1 point
  14. The phrase “gospel-poor countries” is used during such a conversation =  4 points
  15. Every time social media (of any type) is disparaged = 1 point
  16. Someone says in any situation that they “felt God was leading me” = 1 point
  17. Your conference bag has a hole in it = 1 point
  18. This happened on the first day you got it = 2 points
  19. You deliberately put the hole in it so you didn’t have to use it = 5 points
  20. You hear an actual Kookaburra and think a missionary session is about to start = 1 point
  21. Someone asks you if you have been up here the whole week = 1 point
  22. Someone asks you where you are staying = 1 point
  23. That person has already asked you that question earlier in the week = 2 points
  24. That person has already asked you that question earlier in the conversation = 5 points
  25. Someone tells you they should catch up for lunch, although you suspect they used that as a way to finish the conversation = 1 point
  26. You told someone you should catch up for lunch as a way of finishing a conversation = 3 points
  27. Someone says to you “I’ll pray for you” = 2 points
  28. Someone uses “out on the field” or “cross-cultural” in a non-missionary way = 2 points
  29. The number of missionary kids you can find that have an Old Testament name (eg. Noah, Isaac, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Joel, Moses) = 1 point each
  30. If the name is a name not commonly used for naming children (eg. Keziah, Jehoshaphat, Melchizedek) = 3 points
  31. The number of missionary kids named after famous theologians (eg. Calvin, Luther, Wilbur(force), Jensen = 2 points
  32. If you meet someone named Shiphrah or Puah (Exodus 1:15) = 10 points

How did you score? Do you have any others to add to the list? If so, please leave them in the comments section.

(Please note, in case there is any doubt, that this post is not a criticism or complaint of the CMS Summer School. As stated above, I can’t think of a better way to start the year than to hear about the work that God is doing around the world through the missionaries that CMS sends out. Praise God that this is happening and why not join with CMS in praying for “A World that knows Jesus”)
*** There is no reason why I was using so many ‘single’ quotation marks, I just think it is ‘kind of’ fun to leave people ‘wondering’.

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