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.
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”!
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.
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?