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Understanding Christian Lingo

Welcome, New Believer! Now that you're a Christian you may be entering the world of the Church for the first time. This means you're probably hearing a lot of new terms for the first time that you're trying to figure out based on context, but it can be just as confusing as learning a new language especially when different types of churches might mean something different when using the same word or phrase. For big concepts like baptism, communion, salvation, etc... I'll dedicate full posts to diving into them, but for today here are a few terms and their basic meaning so that your next Church visit doesn't seem quite so intimidating.

Big 'C' Church: When someone refers to "Big 'C' Church or to The Church, they are referring to all born-again believers all over the world.

Born-again Believer: This phrase comes from Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus recorded in John 3:1-21. Nicodemus was a member of the Jewish ruling council and came to Jesus secretly at night to sus out for himself what this powerful new Teacher was all about, he starts this clandestine meeting by telling Jesus everyone knows He must be from God because of the miraculous things He's been doing.

In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." "How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!" Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." John 3:3-8

Nicodemus is still confused by this so Jesus goes on to explain God's love for the world and His plan to save them through His Son. I highly recommend going and reading this full passage. In essence then what Christians mean when they call someone a Born-again Believer is simply that they are saved. They don't just identify as a member of the religion, they like you have received their salvation and are a member of the "Big 'C' Church".

Denomination: a denomination is one of the branches of the Christian religious church. Up until the Reformation, there was the Holy Roman Catholic Church and Orthodox Christianity. Across different countries and parishes, you might find theological differences of opinion, but for the most part, the two branches took their own views of doctrine and lived by them until controversial reforms were called for by Martin Luther and continued by others. Then the Catholic church split into several more branches or denominations. We may go into these at some point if it would be helpful to you as you seek to follow Christ and do so with a doctrinally sound body of fellow believers.

Doctrine: a belief or set of beliefs held and taught by a Church.

Amen: You've probably heard this word as an ending to prayer or in certain churches as something congregants will say in response to the Pastor/Reverend/Teacher etc... This word is simply one of agreement meaning 'so be it.'

Pastor/Reverend/Preacher: In Protestant churches, these mean roughly the same thing and we will be going deeper into the role of this person and other church leadership soon including Elders and Deacons. However, it may be an indicator of the type of church you're attending depending on which title they use (it also could just be a regional difference). If you are attending churches other than Protestant their leadership structure and names are a bit different so I would discuss it with your Mentor if you're having trouble keeping the order and roles of each one straight. I am a Protestant and don't want to misrepresent something from the other two branches in my ignorance of them.

Praise and Worship: This is a bit more of a complex topic than what you probably first think of when hearing the phrase 'Praise and Worship'. In the course of a Sunday Service, this would be the portion where everyone sings. There are denominations that don't believe in the use of musical instruments and others who don't believe in the use of music in worship at all. Biblically I would take issue with those denominations considering that two books of God's Word are dedicated to prayer and praise: Psalms and the Song of Solomon. Not only that but how the entire nation of Israel was led in song by Moses' Sister Meriam upon their rescue from Egypt and Deborah's song when God handed Israel's enemies over into the hands of women just as she had told the General who would not go out to battle without her. Not to mention that singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, is commanded in several of the Epistles to the churches. I'm sure I could find more examples, but as you can tell this difference between some denominations really rubs me the wrong way. However, you don't necessarily need a song to worship God, neither does it mean you're worshiping God just because you're singing a "church song". True worship is an attitude of the heart and spirit toward God.

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:14-17

I'm sure there are many other terms that I have missed, so please put any you can think of in the comments. I will be adding on to this post as it seems necessary. Here is your daily reminded to seek out a Mentor in the faith who can also answer these questions as you have them. This is one journey you were never meant to take alone.

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