I like words. I also like philosophy — logic, particularly. My twin affinities have caused my to head throb over some of what passes for Christian lingo. So, in order to alleviate my headache and help my brethren and sisteren (?) clean up their language, I humbly offer this exhaustive list of things Christians need to stop saying. And spoiler alert, it’s a bit of a rant.
Oh sweet tautology of tautologies. This one hits my ears like fingernails across a chalkboard.
Fun fact, all you ever do is life. That’s what life is — the sum total of the lived experience. I know, I know … what you mean to say is, “I want to have deep and meaningful relationships with others.” Yes, that’s awesome. Me too. So say that. That’s why we have words which correspond with your meaning. Use those.
What else could you possibly be doing, non-life? In fact, if you’re ever truly convinced you’re not doing life, check your pulse. You may be dead.
This is a personal favorite. To a normal English-speaker, a season is a climatological word demarcating things like Autumn from Winter, Spring from Summer, and so forth. But to a Christian this word is shorthand for any conceivable span of time, with no clear beginning or end, known only to the user of the word. Prime examples include, “I feel like I’m in a season of prayer,” or, “God’s calling me to a season of service,” or whatnot. And look, I get it. It’s handy. And, it was probably creative the first few BILLION times it was trotted out. But look, the season for using the word “season,” is over. Find a new word.
“I feel like God’s calling me to _______.”
Turn your Bible over. Now, whack the spine a few times. Look down. Did this phrase fall out? Nope. It did not.
NO PERSON IN THE BIBLE EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER <breath> EEEEVERRRRR used this phrase to describe their experience of the call of God. You know why? Because the Holy Spirit would have never inspired anyone to elevate their FEELINGS over God’s instructions. God is calling or He’s not. Your feelings about the matter, well, don’t matter.
Now, it’s not that you can’t feel called to do x, but this little phrase has been used to excuse all kinds of silliness. But because it’s you who feel called, no one is ever allowed to challenge you on it. As a pastor, I hear this all the time. “But pastor, I feel called to date this loser,” “But pastor, I feel called to this obviously disobedient and self-destructive behavior.” And if you “feel called” it becomes nigh impossible for anyone to budge you from your “calling,” no matter how terrible it may be.
Discern what God is saying, not how you feel about it.
“I’m not being fed.”
Phew. This one. I just … I just need a minute.
This one is a favorite of flaky, semi-attentive consumers of religious goods and services. It usually comes just before they flake their flakerly flaktacular flakiness way the flake out the door.
Now, let me get the disclaimer out of the way: there are sadly a lot of pastors who completely fail to remember that their job is to attend to the Word and prayer (Acts 6). They preach garbage, opinions, heresy, or some cocktail of all three. They are literally not feeding their people.
This has become a favorite excuse of lazy maybe-Christians who actually think that their only spiritual ‘meal’ is on Sunday. Think of church like going out to eat at restaurant with an open kitchen. Hopefully, I’ll cook you up a nice, nutritious meal. Hopefully you leave full of delicious Bible. But now that you’ve watched the chef cook, go give it a try yourself. Or you’ll starve.
Any / all references to multiple bodies of water in worship songs.
Look, I know that a lot of people have been blessed by lots of songs involving good ol’ H2o. I’m happy for that, I really am.
Or, I was until they were played to death. Like, actual death may ensue. We’re singing about so many oceans, rivers, lakes, fjords, lochs, and ponds that God may just hear us and drown us all. We’re going to church on Sunday, not a three hour tour. There’s enough water sung about most Sundays to get on Aquaman’s nerves. I don’t know if all that hair product is just getting to our worship leaders’ heads, but I’m praying the Spirit leads you where your songwriting skills are without borders. Particularly, aquatic borders.
All of God’s names all of the time in all of the prayers.
“Lord Jesus Father God, I just wanna thank you Jehovah Father Spirit God…”
You know who knows his name? God. God knows his name. How would you like it if I walked up to you and said your name and all your attributes every single time we spoke. “Pastor husband Adam Mabry Man, I was wondering if I could borrow that pen, Adam Leader Male American White Christian Pastor …” Kuuuuuuhhhhhwitit. Jesus literally said, “When you pray, say ‘Father …'” That’s it.
“Hey dad,” and you’re off to the races.
“I have an unspoken prayer request.”
Do you? Really? Then I’ll just unpray about it. I feel like God’s calling me to a season of doing life where I unpray about unspoken prayer requests. I prayed to Jehovah Jira Father Lord Jesus God Father, and he was cool with it.
Humor aside, I’ve said everyone of these things. But we Christians say silly things, often with little or no meaning. If you’re really offended by any of this, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org