A Pastor’s Guide To Speaking The Hip Language Of Millennials

As a pastor, you know that it’s important to be relevant to those in your church.

To be “in”. Fresh. Totally rad. Cooler than Mr. T during his heyday.

To know all the hottest trends and movies and music.

To speak the street lingo of the people.

You look around and see all these baby-faced, scarf-wearing, Snapchatting, kids in your church and you feel totally out of your element.

Like you’re in a foreign country where Starbucks is the national drink and Kanye is president.

And on top of that, you realize that all your movie references are totally obsolete. The Matrix came out when these kids WERE FOUR YEARS OLD! Referencing Neo is about as relevant as referencing Stonewall Jackson.

And what is this music they’re listening to? Who is this “Bon Iver” person? Chance the Rapper sounds like a character in a “Crash Bandicoot” videogame.

It’s all. So. Confusing.

That’s where I come in. In this helpful, deeply insightful guide, I’m going to teach you how to speak Millennial code words. Simply sprinkle these throughout your conversations and you’ll suddenly be relevant. You’ll be as “right on” as that WWJD snap bracelet you still wear.

I realize this is hard for you. You still enjoy singing along with your “Hootie and the Blowfish” albums. But stick with me.

Deep breath. Let’s go.

Word #1 – “Lit”

In your youth, lit was something you did to a stolen cigarette in the church parking lot. Or, it was something Stryper did to their drumsets at the end of concerts.

No longer.

Now, “Lit” is shorthand for fantastic, awesome, brilliant, amazing, amazeballs, etc. When you say something is lit, you are putting it on a high pedestal.

Example for your sermons: That new Petra album is TOTALLY LIT!

Word #2 – “G.O.A.T.”

You’re not in seminary anymore. Unlike those heady days when you sat around the student lounge, sipping grape soda (you were at Southern), to say something is the GOAT doesn’t mean it’s a sacrificial animal.

GOAT is an acronym that stands for “Greatest Of All Time”. Today’s youth will say things like, “Man. Kendrick Lamar [a modern hip hop artist] is the GOAT!”

Example for your sermons: Wow, Degarmo & Key is the GOAT!

Word #3 – “On fleek / fleek”

Don’t be deceived. This is not a phrase that Benny Hinn says when he is speaking in tongues.

Rather, “on fleek” means that something is perfect, exactly right, on point, etc. The hip kids using it when discussing everything from fashion trends to albums to trends.

Example for your sermons: So my wife handed me a pair of cargo shorts and I was like, “Wow, those are totally on fleek!”

Word #4 – “Shade”

Back in your day, when someone insulted your Trapper Keeper, you considered it a “dis” (as in “disrespect”). However, if you use that word now, the kids will look at you as if you just strapped on a “Depends” adult diaper.

The proper term is now, “Shade.” Kim Kardashian throws shade on Taylor Swift. The Wizards throw shade on the Celtics. Watch bloggers throw shade on everyone.

Example for your sermons: Dude, did you see John Piper throwing shade on Rob Bell? That was lit! 

Word #5 – “Salty”

Don’t confuse “Psalty” (the original Psalter mascot) with “Salty”. When you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, you’re going to feel salty. When you preach a terrible sermon, your congregants feel salty.

To be salty is to be in a bad mood. Grouchy. Throwing out more bad vibes than a Jonathan Merrit post about anything.

Example for your sermons: When I realized the ESV Reader’s Edition was six volumes and weighed more than a Volkswagen, I was feeling seriously salty. 

Word #6 – “Savage”

No, this is not a reference to Fred, the boy wunderkind from The Wonder Years and The Princess Bride. Nor does this describe how you feel when someone recommends The Shack to you.

To be savage is to be incredibly cool – so cool that there is also something untamed and wild about you. Back in your day, when fax machines were the hot new thing, Sylvester Stallone/Rocky Balboa/Rambo was savage. John Eldredge believes it’s every man’s sacred duty to pursue a savage life.

Example for your sermons: You guys familiar with Stephen Altrogge? That guy is SAVAGE!

Word #7 – “Trolling” 

This word has two meanings. It can mean someone is just messing with you purely for fun. Or it can mean someone is trying to get your goat (not to be confused with G.O.A.T.) up.

That guy who joins an Arminian Facebook group and then starts recommending books by John Calvin could be either the first or second type of troll.

Example for your sermons: When someone recommended this Christian album to me, I couldn’t tell if they were trolling. 

Word #8 – “Bae”

Although this word may be falling out of use, you should still be aware of it. Your bae is your significant other. Your boyfriend / girlfriend / spouse / person you’re courting / person you asked permission from the dad to “get to know”.

When an Acts 29 pastor says his wife is, “Hot,” he’s speaking of his bae. Your mom is your dad’s bae (scratch that, it’s weird and creepy).

Example for your sermons: For date night, my bae and I went roller skating, and then rewatched You’ve Got Mail. 

Word #9 – “The struggle is real”

Remember when you tried to organize that potluck dinner for single guys and ended up with 18 bags of chips, 4 packages of Oreos, 9 bags of ice, 3 Red Bull, and a case of Axe Body Spray? In that moment, you could have said, “The struggle is real!”

The phrase is to be used when a legitimate problem or struggle is encountered. Tried to get the Sunday crowd fired up by shooting t-shirts into the audience, only to send a young woman to the hospital? The struggle is real.

Example for your sermons: Guys, you know when you’re using T9 texting to your bae and you totally screw up the words? The struggle is real. 

Go Forth With Boldness

Now that you know how to speak the jive of the Millennial kids, you can be confident that they’ll think you’re a cool, fresh, relevant pastor.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to listen to this totally lit Creed album.

Stephen Altrogge

I’m a husband, dad, writer. I drink too much coffee and know too much about Star Wars. I created The Blazing Center. I’ve also written some books which people seem to like. You can follow me on Twitter and Facebook