Wednesday, November 11, 2009

5 Words Every Christian Should Never Use Again

1 "Outreach" – Stop using this word. Stop planning projects or events where you recruit others to go out and "pet the poor" at a service project or descend upon unsuspecting citizens at the mall to throw a Bible tract at them. We're called to love people, not to target them. Instead of doing an "outreach" to the poor, for example, why don't we think of ways we can befriend people who are living on the streets in a more long-term relationship? Instead of organizing a drive-by ministry op, what if we simply shared with those who have less than we do? Maybe that's a family on your street? Or maybe it's a homeless woman under the freeway overpass.

Suggested replacement: "Loving People"

2 "Church" – Stop referring to the place you go every Sunday morning as Church. Stop identifying the Church as the specific group of believers you hang with. The word in the New Testament is actually "ekklesia" which is better translated as "Called Out Ones" or "Community". Whenever you say, "Look at that Church" or "I'm going to Church" you are expressing something that is non-Biblical. Why? Because according to the New Testament, YOU are the Church. We are all part of a single, living temple of God. The global population of all followers of Jesus are part of one, single Body or Family. There is no room to segment or to separate ourselves from the brothers down the street, or the sisters in India, or anyone else who has been baptized into the Body of Christ.

Suggested replacements: "Community", "Assembly, "Family of God", "Body of Christ", "ekklesia".

3 "Belief" - Christians have so mishandled the Biblical concept of "Belief" that it has become virtually unrecognizable in its current form. When Jesus says that "whoever believes in me shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16) he is not asking people to accept that he exists. In that passage, Jesus is asking Nicodemus, the Pharisee, to understand that placing his entire life under the authority of the Messiah is necessary in order to be born again and to enter the Kingdom of God. Today we have twisted this word "Belief" into a magic word. All we have to do is to believe that Jesus died on the cross and "poof" - we are eternally secure. Nevermind that this is never taught by Jesus, or His disciples, but that's our popular teaching so no one questions it.

Suggested replacements: "Submission to Christ", "Trust", "Going all-in".

4 "Pastor" – Stop using this word to refer to the man who gets paid to teach and preach to the same people every single week. Why? Because the word is only used once in the entire New Testament – and when it was used it was in the plural form, not the singular. In addition, the New Testament concept of a "Pastor" was someone who helped to care for the spiritual well-being of those in the community of faith and worked as a team with other pastors and elders. The New Testament contains absolutely zero evidence for any one person who taught or spoke every single week while everyone else sat silently taking notes. Instead we see 58 "one anothers" in the New Testament where the entire Body is encouraged to teach, encourage, exhort, rebuke, and love one another.

Suggested replacements: "Brother", "Sister", "[insert first name]"

5 "Tithe" – The New Testament Church has never used this term, nor did it practice tithing. In the New Testament we see the Church taking voluntary collections as followers "gave...whatever they could afford" and only if they had the means to do so. Whenever a collection was taken, it was either for feeding the poor in the community, or perhaps given to travelling missionaries who preached the gospel and planted new churches. On a few occasions a special offering was taken to support another group of believers in another region. Primarily, the offerings collected were distributed to the poor, the widow and the orphan. FACT: The Christian Church didn't impose a formal tithe until the 7th Century A.D. under Pope Adrian I.

Suggested replacements: "Each man should give as he has purposed in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion..." (2 Cor 9:7)

NOTE: These are only suggestions. Your mileage may vary.



Kim Tacheny said...

this is a great list Keith. Thanks for sharing!

Rephael said...

Great intro to the subject Keith - inspiring. Just one thing: on the "church" one your suggested alternatives are equivalents, even though you've highlighted that people are using the word to refer to a particular group of people, a regular meeting or (worst of all) a building! If people want to refer to these things they need to avoid "church" and say what they mean... e.g. that building we get together in; that regular meeting for worship; our local group of Christians (i.e. congregation). Of course, in the end it would be good to do away with some of these unhelpful things (like church buildings) but in the meantime calling a spade a spade would be a good first step!