Time to change our Vocabulary

As we head into 2011, there are a few words I would like to see stricken from our Christian lexicon.  These are words that have lost their meaning, are full of preconceptions and prejudices.  If anyone can think of a decent replacement for these words, I’m game.

Here’s the list:

Christian (and Christianity)

Ok…I already broke my own rule in the first sentence of this post.  The word “Christian” is so full of baggage that it no longer effectively communicates the heart of what it means to be a true follower of Christ.  Just bearing the name itself automatically makes it and “us against them” proposition.  “I’m a Christian and you’re not!”  Even if we don’t mean it like that, it’s what everyone else hears.

Mega-church (or “mega” anything)

This one simultaneously makes me want to laugh, cry, and stab myself in the eye.  The very thought that the body of Christ has been reduced to a corporate institution makes my blood boil.  The fact that we think numbers automatically make it better or effective or right runs counter to everything scripture teaches.

Mega does not care for the insignificant.  Mega does not care for the individual.  That’s why mega-churches are always trying to “deconstruct” themselves to smaller working parts like small groups, core groups, or whatever.  The truth is, those smaller groups…that’s where church really happens.

Pastor

Ok, I’m treading on thin ice with this one.  I don’t mean to knock those who are serving the body of Christ, and I know there are a lot of sincere pastors out there who do.  It’s just that the word “pastor” as it used in the Bible has, for the most part, been lost on us.  Today many pastors are CEO’s, administrators, teachers, managers, marketers, fundraisers and more.

The word “pastor” in the New Testament means “shepherd”.  God’s people are desperate for shepherds.  They are desperate for a pastor who can walk through life with them and give them the love, encouragement, and accountability they need to have a successful relationship with God.  Oh, that we would deconstruct our churches down to the organic level of small groups of people, walking in intimate love with one another…shepherded, loved, and built up by pastors who are not too busy doing the “business” of “Christianity”!

Ministry

The word, as it is used in the New Testament, means “to serve, as in one who waits tables.”  Yeah, ministry is not starting a 501(c)(3) or building a building.  It’s about serving.  It’s not a thing…it’s an action.  And it doesn’t mean you wear a fancy suit and drive a nice car and have everybody treat you like a rock star.  The role of “ministry” is one of serving, it is one of being lower than everyone else, not higher.  Those in ministry exist to serve the body, not the other way around.

I’m highly suspect of anyone who tells me they are called to the ministry, who is not so scared of what that means that they want to run in the other direction as fast as they can.  Today, there are many who see ministry as a career or a way to earn a living.  Actually, those in ministry are the spiritual equivalent of a waiter in a restaurant, making sure the body has everything it needs to carry out the call of Christ.

And finally…

Church

We think a church is a place you go.  We think church is an institution you become a member of.  And those who are not of the faith think a church is probably the last place they’d go for healing, love, acceptance, or love.

Is that true of all churches?  Absolutely not.  But that the perception out there.  We have to change the lexicon, we have to change the paradigm.  Church must become what Christ (you know…the One who started the church) intended it to be:  people who have been radically transformed by the grace of God, sharing their lives together with the common goal of encouraging one another to holy living and care for the poor.

Nothing more, nothing less.  Beyond that it’s an institution of man, and it’s actually in direct conflict with the true work of the kingdom of God.  Did you hear that?  The anything beyond that is an enemy of the kingdom of God.

Ok, that’s my working list.  It’s not complete, but it’s a start.

Can you think of any others?

  1. #1 by Rick McConnell on January 11, 2011 - 2:08 PM

    Great devotion Dave. Keep hammering away. good work!

  2. #3 by Erica on January 13, 2011 - 2:00 PM

    Great post! I do think we need some vocabulary changes. I prefer to be called a follower of Jesus Christ or a Christ Follower rather than a Christian because I don’t believe that what many think of when they hear the name “Christian” is Christ-like in nature or true to the path we are to follow if we are His.

    I agree TOTALLY with what you posted. We are all called to serve – not just those in “ministry”. We are to be servants of Jesus Christ, serving one another.

    Someone mentioned to me yesterday that he is disgusted with the way he doesn’t feel comfortable sharing his struggles with those in his “church” as there are so many pat answers and people are expected to look “perfect” on the outside when he knows that really it is all a facade. It is time to get REAL with people and not act like a bunch of Pharisees. It is time to walk with people through their struggles without embarrassment. We are all people in need of change, even “ministers”. We are people in need of change helping others in need of change or walking with others as they are on their journey. We need to start acting like the church – the Body of Christ.

  3. #4 by Erica on January 18, 2011 - 1:49 PM

    I was visiting another church community on Sunday and that pastor was using the term, “Biblical Community” to describe that church body. I liked one of the songs we sung: “Let the Church Rise” by Jonathan Stockstill.

    Chorus:
    Let the church rise from the ashes
    Let the church fall to her knees
    Let us be light in the darkness
    Let the church rise, let the church rise

    • #5 by Dave Kirby on January 18, 2011 - 9:22 PM

      I guess that could sum up the theme of my book. The Church Must Die…so the real church can live. I like that song. Some of those hymns have great lyrics we don’t get today.

  4. #6 by Erica on January 18, 2011 - 10:23 PM

    As we sung that song, I was thinking that the verses, chorus… all the words to the song really go along with what you are saying in your book. Let the church rise from the ashes!

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