The Proper Christian Terminologies

The Proper Christian Terminologies

Posted by David Nadel on 18th Jan 2020

Think about what it must feel like to visit a lively church for the first time. Consider the many religious terms that are used during a single service, and ask yourself how you would feel if you heard them for the first time. Without the proper context that comes with growing up in a Christian church, you can’t blame someone for being confused, or even turned off, by some of the phrases that they’re hearing.

To make matters more complicated, it’s not uncommon for church members, or even the pastor themselves, to misuse biblical terms due to contextual changes over the years. Today, we’re going to break down five commonly used terms that you’ll hear in churches on a regular basis, and explain what they really mean.

#1: Revival

What People May Think It Means

When we hear the term “revival,” we often think about a short period of time during which another pastor, and perhaps that pastor’s praise team, take over duties at our church. We consider it a short change in staff that’s meant to liven things up, give us a new perspective and help us bond with new people.

What It Really Means

In fact, a revival has nothing to do with who is preaching and who isn’t. This term, according to the Bible, means a sort of re-exhilaration of the spirit. This can occur when a miracle takes place, when a prayer is answered, when a church throws a celebration, and more. However, when we constantly refer to the visit of a preacher as a “revival,” we lose our connection with what the word really means.

#2: Mission

What People May Think It Means

Most of us believe that a mission is a lengthy, involved and expensive trip to a faraway distance that’s often underprivileged. The goal of a mission, as we are told, is to spread God’s word to as many people as possible so that we can come back feeling proud of the work that we’ve done.

What It Really Means

Missions existed in the Bible long before planes were invented. God never told us that in order to fulfill a mission, we have to make sure that we cross a certain number of miles first. A lot of us feel intimidated by the concept of a mission because in our heads, it’s a long and potentially dangerous journey into the unknown, and one that requires sacrifice as we give up our comforts. This just isn’t the case. A mission can be visiting a business in the next town over with some literature about what is taught in your church.

#3: Secular

What People May Think It Means

When the word “secular” is preached from the pulpit, most of us envision images of evil, of Satanic possession and of pure hopelessness in the world. We believe that to do something that is secular is to commit a sin, and we therefore avoid secular things altogether, feeling that they may corrupt us, and that we are above them as Christians.

What It Really Means

This is a term that can absolutely turn off newcomers, simply because it’s very often misused. Secular does not mean sinful or evil. Secular is simply a term that refers to things that are not founded on Christianity. And, that doesn’t make them inherently bad or dangerous. For instance, many of our favorite TV shows are secular, because they don’t have themes of Christianity, and aren’t inspired directly by God. Does that mean that we are sinners for being entertained by them? Preaching that secular things are wrong by nature can make people feel that churches are overly harsh and judgmental, and don’t believe in having fun.

#4: Giving

What People May Think It Means

When a preacher tells us to be more giving, most of us see dollar signs in our mind’s eye. We have been conditioned to associate then nature of giving with financial contributions that require a potentially uncomfortable level of personal sacrifice.

What It Really Means

God tells us time and time again that giving is not only monetary. We have more to offer than our finances, and if anyone should know that, it’s God. We can be giving with our time, and even with our hearts. Taking a moment to sit with someone who is going through a difficult time is a form of giving that God encourages.

#5: Apocalypse

What People May Think It Means

When we hear the word “apocalypse,” we think of the end of the world, of catastrophe, of tragedy and all-out chaos. No wonder so many people are afraid of the book of Revelation.

What It Really Means

In truth, apocalypse literally translates to an end of an era. Using this definition, the word no longer fills our hearts with dread like it once did. Making this distinction is important if we want to teach and remember that ultimately, the promises made in Revelation are supposed to fill our hearts with joy and peace, not with fear.

Clarification is Important Indeed

Understanding the true meanings behind these five commonly used Christian terms won’t just help you better understand what God is really saying, but it can also help Church newcomers feel more comfortable as certain phrases can be confusing. So, make an effort to clarify what you mean whenever you use these terms to avoid turning someone off or speaking incorrectly. After all, as God’s messengers, we have responsibilities to speak in a way that both Christians and non-Christians can understand clearly.