Words are so interesting. Over time, they change meaning, lose effectiveness or develop a stigma. When it comes to faith, we see this all the time. Pick up C.S. Lewis’ book Mere Christianity and the opening chapter will tell you how the word Christian has lost it’s meaning, and this book was written decades ago. Really, it’s only been the last 2-3 years that I’ve replaced the term Christian for the words Christ follower. Sure, it may just be semantics, but the term seems to be much more intentional about meaning in a culture where the word Christian conjures up some many different definitions and emotions. Who knows, maybe in a few more years, there will be another term Christ followers are using.
Don’t get hung up on the words though, it’s really not about me, it’s about those I hope to influence. Without compromising convictions or beliefs, it’s my job to connect with people in their reality. If finding a unique way to describe what I am about in life that actually engages a non-believer, I’m 100% behind it. I think we need to constantly analyze the words and terms we use while trying to be relevant with the people around us. \
One word we don’t use at my church at all is discipleship. Is it me or is it just so churchy? In addition, there are too many definitions for discipleship. To some churches, it’s a class. For others it’s a group book study. For others it’s a multi-year one on one relationship and to others it’s a program. Many Christ followers have awkward or negative thoughts associated with this term while even some of those outside the church see discipleship as cult-like and mindless devotion to a freaky cause. The term discipleship may need to go the way of the Dodo.
So what’s another word? We use the word transform or transformation. Isn’t that really the point of discipleship, to transform or change? Lots of people are in “discipleship,” but they never change. Isn’t that an oxymoron? It’s a fairly specific word that describes something that could be measured, right? The reason I like this word too is that it isn’t specific to any particular method. People are discipled/transformed by various methods, but just becasue someone is being discipled doesn’t mean they’ve changed.
What do you think of this word? Is it one you’ll add to your vocabulary? Can you think of any other church “inside” words that need to be transformed?
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