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7 Things We Christians Simply Must Stop Saying
June 23, 2016
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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.

“Doing Life”

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.

“Season”

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.

But.

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 growasenseofhumor@imnotgonnareadit.nope

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There are 5 comments

  • Erica says:

    LOVE. IT. SO. MUCH.

    Can we add in there Over-Repetitive Choruses that overwhelm a song much like a monsoon? Pretty Please, Pastor Adam, man, White, Christian, Dude, Friend?

    There are some brilliant and theologically accurate words that have done us good for hundreds of years. Not sure why we’ve not challenged our quills, our grey matter, and our spirits to do the same. 😀

  • Bette says:

    So how do you recommend that you say, “There is a confidential situation that I think needs prayer, but it would be inappropriate of me to give any details, so I’d like for you to rely on the omniscience of God that he knows the situation and what outcome we should be praying for, and pray for that to happen.”
    I always thought the phrase “unspoken prayer request” was a nice shorthand for that paragraph.

    • Adam says:

      Hi Bette, you’re right. For many people who say this, it’s a nice shorthand for, “I’ve got a personal matter that needs prayer.” But for many many others, they stop there. The Scriptures never tell us to pray that way. Rather, they’re always wanting to push us to deeper and deeper relational intimacy with God and others, it seems. So, while I suppose it can help to say, “please pray for my unknown issue,” far better are thoughtful, specific prayers that are uttered by our closest friends. Far better as well is a life lived deeply, so that even our most “inappropriate” requests are heard by people who love us enough not to be bothered by our problems.

  • RF says:

    I think the fourth one needs to be revised? I got your point that spiritual meal doesn’t rely on the church alone but the church has still a great part.

    I mean, yeah, what’s the problem if someone says that he’s not being fed especially if the pastor is teaching garbage, opinions or heresy(coming from your examples)? Who’s to be stopped, the one saying “I’m not being fed” or the pastor teaching garbage, opinions or heresies?

    Or to whom are we sending this blog, to Christians(based on your title) or to people who are “semi-attentive consumers of religious goods”? There has to be distinction between the two.

    Thanks for answering.

  • John Angelico says:

    Hi from Australia, Adam.

    I tracked you down via The Gospel Coalition piece on “Reformed” needs to join with “Pentecostal” (Mr Z and Pastor J).

    It resonated with me because I have moved from growing up Roman Catholic to drifting, to conservative Pentecostal to Reformed in a conservative Presbyterian denomination.

    Many thanks for your refreshing take on the divisions of doctrine across the church (non-)universal.

    And on this article, another “Bravo!” from here.

    May I add that another large area of division is music, so following on from Erica at comment 1, our great concern in music is the emptiness of modern chorus style song-writing.

    Not only the repetition (for which see Ps 136 as one out of 150 🙂 ) but also the presentation which is so often what we call “entertainment style” which is totally unsuited to congregational singing.

    So far I see this as derived from faulty theology of our relationship to God, where Jesus is our friend and lover, but not our Commander-in-Chief, The Lord of Hosts.

    So the 20th century of the Individual laps up the “me and Jesus” romantic sentimentalism (derived maybe from a lot of schmaltzy Fanny Crosby hymns?) but has put aside the “Soldiers of the Cross”, “Onward Christian Soldiers”, “Fight The Good Fight” and “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” battle hymns.

    Is it any wonder that too many congregations are mainly comprised of women, and men broadly shun the church as “weak” and “for sissies and kids only”?

    Thanks again, and may God continue to bless your work.

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