We Gotta Stop Saying These Things


Ever notice how Christians tend to develop their own lingo?

We who are in Sovereign Grace Churches have done that over the years, and thankfully, some of our old terminology has been relegated to the church lingo junk yard. ?I can?t believe some of the language we used in the early years of our church. Visitors must have wondered what planet we came from.

For example, in the early 80?s in our church we called our worship team ?The Music Unit.? What were we thinking? ?Sounds like a name Frank Zappa would have come up with (he named his daughter Moon Unit). Maybe we should have had Styx come in to lead us in singing “Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto.” “Music Unit” also sounds like some kind of Swat Team. ?I can hear Jack Bauer calling CTU saying, ?I need you to get me the Music Unit over here NOW!? ?Suddenly, a helicopter appears over the church building and black-clad commandos descend on ropes, bust through the sanctuary doors, storm the stage, and begin to lead us in a rousing chorus of ?We’re Gonna Take Back What the Devil Stole From Us.?

Another name for worship teams that some of our churches used was ?The Minstrels.? I am glad to say I never used that term. ?What were we – medieval kings? ??Let the Minstrels come forth!?? Suddenly singers come out in tights and jester hats playing their lutes. ?What were guests thinking? ??When does the jousting begin?? ?What were guests who?d been to the Genesis concert the night before thinking? ??Last night I saw a super band; this morning I?m being entertained by minstrels.?

This may have been limited to our church, but back in the early 80?s we had ?pot faith? meals, because there is no such thing as ?luck? for a Christian. Of course, no one would tell anyone else what they were bringing, we would just be in ?faith? the Holy Spirit would lead each of us in what to bring. ?I don?t know how we explained it when everyone showed up with macaroni and cheese.

As weird as we were back then, we still have things we have to quit saying. We have got to stop saying ?Released,? as in ?Those of you serving in Children’s Ministry may be released now.? ?What? ?Do we have them in cages? ??Run free Children’s Workers! ?Run home to your burrows.? ?Or, ?Thank your wife for releasing you to come and speak at our church this morning.? ??Ok, I?ll do that. ?I?ll thank her for unlocking those manacles on my wrists and ankles.? ?What do visitors think when we say, ?For all our guests this morning, please be released from giving any currency in the oblation when the ushers come hither from yon ushers? chambers.?

I know I?ll get flack for this one, but can we stop calling the Communion bread and juice ?the elements??
What are we taking this morning – Chromium and Manganese?

And we?ve got to stop saying, ?So if you?re here this morning? as in, ?So if you?re here this morning and you?re depressed…?
Of course they?re here. ?Where else are they? ??So if you?re not here this morning and you?re depressed…?

And I think it?s time for guys to stop calling other guys, ?Bro.? That was cool at one time but we?ve got to ditch it. ?Along with overuse of the word ?serve.? ??Bro, it really wouldn?t serve my wife, Bro, for me to help you move your piano this weekend. ?And Bro, it wouldn?t serve me either, Bro. ?And Bro, I?d love to serve you by sharing an observation with you, Bro. ?Be released from asking me to serve you in the future, Bro.?

And can we all stop saying, ?At the end of the day? and ?It is what it is?? ?Can we, Bro?

Now it’s your turn.? What other lingo do we just need to stop using?


  • Jon says:

    Thanks Mark, Carolyn and I often share a laugh over your blogs, but I think we laughed harder about this than any other.

    My nomination is for "unpacking" this scripture passage. Or, if you're going to say this, wrap up a plaque of the verse in giftwrap and actually unpack it before you talk about it.

    Be released to keep serving with your great blogs, bro! Love ya!


  • joanna says:

    I'm not sure that it is particularly common, but on several occasions I have heard people use the phrase "clap offering" to mean giving God a round of applause. That definitely should go.

  • Mark Altrogge says:

    Good one, Jon! You're right, we need to ditch "unpack" – when I hear guys say that I think about unpacking underwear from a suitcase…

  • Mark Altrogge says:

    Joanna, that's hilarious! I think we used to say that, as well as "wave offering"…

  • arwen says:

    OK, calling the bread and juice "elements" is bad, but at least we use regular grape juice. One of the Sovereign Grace churches I went to used white grape juice because they didn't want to stain the new sanctuary (or "meeting room"). Doesn't that kinda negate the entire symbolism? As if Jesus' blood is too messy, so we're just going to "partake" of his serum!

  • lisa says:

    This is all such good stuff, and I agree with all of it…. although, in the privacy of our Sovereign Grace home, we do talk about serving one another, releasing one another, and "bringing an observation." (I actually like these phrases, but I agree that other people might be going, "Huh?")

    And…. well….. since you brought it up, Mark (Bro), I wonder if I may serve you by bringing an observation…. you often say, "If this is your first time here, my name's Mark…" and Don and I whisper to each other, "What's his name if we've been here before?" Joe and Stephen do it too, and we actually think it's kind of endearing, but since you were asking for suggestions….

  • Caroline says:

    thanks a ton for the post:) It was good to begin my day with a good laugh;)

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Good observation, Lisa. Pretty funny. We need to find something else to say to first time visitors…Tom (now the Pastor in Altoona) once started to welcome the guests, but changed midstream to welcome visitors and it came out, "We'd like to welcome all our gisitors this morning."

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Arwen, I agree…white grape juice seems a little strange to me…but hey, I've never had a new sanctuary to protect. Our "design team" for the new building has been testing new chair fabric to see if it repels coffee…

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    You're welcome, Caroline. Glad you could start the day with a laugh….

  • lisa says:

    I just hope my observation served you. At the end of the day, it is what it is, of course, but I'm just glad that you understood my point and I didn't have to unpack it for you. Thanks for not hearing what I wasn't saying. I guess Lady Faith was smiling on me. Maybe next time you and Joe and Stephen get together, you could do some vision casting about how to greet first time gisitors.

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    I didn't hear what you weren't saying, but who the heck is Lady Faith?

  • lisa says:

    You know, like Lady Luck, only for Christians.
    Gee, ::frowns slightly like Alex Trebek:: thought you would've gotten that one, Mark.

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Guess it's getting late…I see, Lady Faith…ok, now it's funny. And it is what it is.

  • Jason D. says:

    We say "Pot-Providence" in stead of "Pot-Luck"… we don't believe in luck :)

  • Mark Altrogge says:

    Pot Providence – hilarious!

  • Bill Haughery says:

    Mark, I can't remember when I laughed so hard. In fact, I wondered what I must have looked like sitting in my sun room all alone and laughing hysterically. … one of the best "quiet times" I've had in a while.

  • Matt Blick says:

    BTW you might want to sing this while you're passing round 'the elements'

  • MarkAltrogge says:


    Very funny – we drink of the cup. I'm drinking of the cup of coffee right now….
    And "Maybe you're here this morning…..or maybe you're not….." thanks for adding these in…

  • MarkAltrogge says:


    I wish I could have been there with you….

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Just listened to it…pretty funny – I think he said Samarium? Like the Good Samarium?

  • Emily says:

    i remember the first time i told my husband (we've been married 6 months and he's been at our church about a year) that a friend "brought an observation" into my life. I remember him saying "you mean, she corrected you or challenged you or simply just pointed out sin in your life? Yea… that.

    I think that "evidence of grace" can be another one of the catch phrases… i think its a good one but I try to just say "i want to encourage you because I see God working in your life."

  • Dave Wilson says:

    Funny stuff Mark.

    I'm thinking we can retire "sharing" from our lingo. "Thanks for sharing Sally…" "Can I share an observation with you Morty?"

    Thanks for letting me share this suggestion,

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    These are good, Emily. When someone says "I have an observation" I think they've seen something new in their telescope. "Evidence of grace" – yep, that's a good one too…

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    You're right, Dave,

    Time to ditch it. Thanks for sharing! You could have been selfish, but you SHARED!

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Thanks Leslie,

    I've had a lot of laughs from the comments too!

  • spufidoo says:

    Pot predestination?

  • spufidoo says:

    It was a joy and a privilege to read that!

  • Timothy says:

    "I wish I could say more on this point." Or, "We don't have time to read all of this . . . ." Ok, isn't the point of being together to spend time in the Word? And, if you really wish you could say more on the passage, either say more now or plan a time when you do.

    "Outreach" – this is a perfectly fine phrase as long as it really is OUTreach. Unfortunately outreach usually means a really fun program where everybody in the church will show up and invite people to come in the doors of the church. I call that INreach.

  • Dustin says:

    Bro, thanks for unpacking this observation. If you are here this morning and reading this, what a great example of an evidence of grace this post is in all of our lives. To think that God's kindness would extend to me in such a way as this is too much for me to even meditate upon. Thanks for serving all of us in such a way as making us feel as though we are now released from using such categorial language. Pastorally, you… have… served… us… all… well.

    Blessings to you, my brother

  • lisa says:

    Dustin, was that a CJ impression there at the end?? PRICELESS! :-)

  • bfpower says:

    If you're here today and this is the first time you're commenting…..

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    A joy and a privilege – brilliant spufido!

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Dustin, thank you for sharing these observations, bro.

    I especially liked the last line, with its poignant pauses for emphasis….

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    I think I'm here, bf, but I might be somewhere else.

  • Ben says:

    Funny thing is, "I wish I could say more on this point" is generally followed by actually saying more about the point, and "We don't have time to read all of this" is generally followed by a longer explanation about what they had no time to read than it would have taken to just read it!

  • Aaron says:

    About the "faith" versus "luck" bit. I dealt with that all through childhood and onto adulthood. Some people in the church, including, for a time, my parents, would scowl at me when I mentioned something as "lucky". They always either explained that luck doesn't exist in either an angry or, more likely, patiently condescending tone.

    I'm a trained statistician. Even if God sovereign, luck exists. The world is full of probabilities. If you stub your toe in the pitch dark, that's bad luck. If you win the lottery, that's good luck. You are lucky to have been chosen as one of God's children. Continuously telling people that there's no such thing as luck/probabilities leads people to ask, "Why did [insert horrible thing] happen to me, if it's not just my dumb luck?" It also leads them to be ungrateful when good things happen, like they deserve it because God is handing it to them.

  • Mark Altrogge says:

    Now that’s going too far…

  • Nicole says:

    Having grown up in Sovereign Grace, I have a special appreciation for this. Made me laugh out loud. Several times.

    Thanks for sharing and bringing these observations. This is such an evidence of grace in your life.

    Now, I'm waiting for the follow-up post on the old time songs we used to sing. The ones like "I Have A Destiny". :)

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Hey Aaron,

    If "luck" has to do with probabilities and odds, etc., from a human standpoint, then you're absolutely right. If luck means there are some things that happen outside God's sovereign control, then I don't believe there is such a thing as luck. At any rate, we certainly never deserve any blessing from God and all we truly deserve is hell. Sometimes a more accurate word than "luck" would be "blessed."

    Thanks for your comments!

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Hey Nicole,

    You had to mention "I Have A Destiny"…..at least you didn't quote some of the lyrics from "Heroes"….I agree, I think a post on some of those old songs would be funny. At least it would be humbling — for me. Which would be an evidence of grace. Thanks for putting on a clinic on how to share comments.

  • Martha says:

    Oh, the words that could be added to this! This is not specifically a SG problem, but I've heard it everywhere (especially in prayer): "just".
    "Let's just praise the Lord!"
    "Lord, we just…we just thank you for being in this place."
    "Let's all just come together and…"
    What does it even mean?!

  • Mark Altrogge says:

    Hey Martha,

    Now we're really getting down to the nitty gritty. You are so right, we use the word "just" all the time….in fact a friend of mine was bemoaning people using the word in prayer. I think that John Lennon said that in songwriting "just" is a filler word. I just hope I just don't start saying it all the time. That would be just great.

  • I have one that I don't think anyone's mentioned… the one that gets me is "season of life". We at the cov use that all the time. Every time I say that I think to myself "I have got to find another way to say explain that."

  • katherine says:

    I could almost hear CJ Mahaney saying that! Lol!

  • Mark Altrogge says:

    Season of life – yep that's another one Bernadette…yep, got to find some other way to put it…

  • lisa says:

    Good point, Martha! I had forgotten about that one.

  • Eliza Huie says:

    This post brought to mind a conversation I once had with a lady new to our church. She was trying to make sense of the prayer the pastor prayed in the service. She figured it was a great step in humility but wondered if it was taking it a little too far when he prayed:
    "Lord you know that we are "But Dust". She asked me later. What exactly is "but dust"?
    …you make the connection ;)

  • jun says:

    thanks Mark. You've done it again. Not only have you affected my soul time and time again with the songs that you've penned (a lot of which I never knew you were the writer until recently) but you have also affected my face and probably my state of mind by making me laugh so hard all by myself – if someone would see me, they would probably call the mental hospital. Again thanks and God bless yo, bro. :-)

  • Melody says:

    Hmmm, not sure "I'm in agreement" with all these "put off's" without "appropriate" "put ons". :) Christians do have a language originating from The Word, that can be best understood from hearing and reading. In our culture today, both "in the church" and "on the street", keeping up with the dynamic of a changing vocabulary is daunting. Explaining a word's origins, if in The Word, is a good thing, like elements or "But Dust", or how about being referred to a "worm"? :) And should we not call each other by an affectionate term like "Bro?" But it is interesting after we come together for a Next conferrence or other large gathering and hear a term being used repeatedly, as if usage of the word or phrase makes us more "mod". :) But again, if we use a term because it helps us identify with The Word, or a saint we admire, I say, "Say it, and say it again", like our friends CJ (s). Laugh on!!!!

  • CJ Waldron says:

    I’ve got a few…

    “this season…” – just a pet peeve

    “harvest carnival” – if that doesn’t sound pagan, I don’t know what does

    “thanks for coming” – I was once introduced to a friend’s boyfriend (at the time) who went to another SG church. ?My friend introduced me as her neighbor (I lived 2 doors down from her at the time, but also was a church member), and he responded with that little nugget and I immediately knew what actual guests must think when they hear that

    “[insert action] ministry” – yeah, sure, most of those things probably have an aspect of ministry, but let’s not get carried away

    Joking aside, the problem I have (and other commenters may have made this point) is that rote repitition of the meaningful phrases (like “means of grace” – which I love, but have heard too much) have their meaning completely removed if they are said without thought.

    Secondly, we run a huge risk of being completely unable to explain gospel truths to anyone outside of our circles-both those who believe and those who don’t. ?I tend to focus on the annoying side of overuse, but I think it goes deeper than that.

  • Andy Chance says:

    But I just learned to use "it is what it is"!

  • Mrs MM Reynolds says:

    Sorry Aaron, whatever your training is, if there is GOD, AND HE IS, God is Sovereign. He chose me when I was still in my Mothers womb. Fact. The Bible tells me so and by now I know this from my life and also the lives of my brothers and sisters in Christ. We do not continuously tell anyone that there is no such thing as luck, we do go to God's word and remind each other what it tells us. When hard things happen to us or we are scarred by hard things in our passed that is nothing other than God dealing with us. No, we don't know why, but that does not mean that we cannot learn to accept that God our Sovereign Lord knows best. We do at times suffer consequences due to our own sins. And as for when God particularly blesses us, we are not ungrateful but bless his holy name. When the Lord Jesus Christ came on earth, He came perfect and remained so and so could take on himself all the sins of God's own. His suffering was so far beyond anything we ever have to go through, it should makes us very much thankful and uncomplaining. We should desire more and more to be like Jesus. If you are thinking about all these things of God, maybe God is calling you to repent and kneel before him, be freed from your hang-ups of leading your own live. This is not an invitation to a club, but an invitation to come along of your Creator, he knows the workings of you and wrote the instructions and has shown his care for you. According to his will

  • Mrs MM Reynolds says:

    Maybe the 'Lets just' started when someone became entirely fed up with long winded phrases of praise and all they wanted to do was, "Praise the Lord".

  • Mrs MMReynolds says:

    Why are some chapel buildings called sanctuaries? Was not the temple destroyed in the first centuary AD. Is not God our Sanctuary? JEHOVAH-ROHI. Calling some building the ,sanctuary', you end up with sanctuary doors/corridors/toilets/teaching rooms, you name it. That could well be dropped.

  • These are all helpful and amusing observations, but I'd just be happy if we could get people to stop saying "Revelations" and "fruits of the Spirit."

    And what's with referring to a single psalm in the plural? "Let's turn to Psalms 32." We don't say, "Turn in your hymnal to hymns 134."

    And I simply cannot be convinced that some people meaningfully address the Father in corporate prayer when they insert "HeavenlyFatherLord" at the end of every clause. It winds up being just a filler. We don't do that with each other. “So Danny, I’ve crossed the street into your yard, Danny, to request of you, Danny, if you would like to, Danny, come with me to my son's baseball game, Danny, my dear neighbor, if you would be interested.”

  • Ellen says:

    How about "It's a God thing" or "It's a God moment" – who knows what those phrases are supposed to mean?

    Also can't stand the cop out phrase "and so on and so forth" – it's like the verbal equivalent to etc., when you can't really think of what else to say, but there must be more, so just add that on the end and let everyone else do the work of figuring out what else you might mean.

  • Scott says:

    hmmmmm not sure if anyone mentioned this yet….. but. . . . "let's say a quick prayer" or "let's bow for a quick word of prayer before we go" seems ridiculous! As in "I know I've bored you for the past 15 minutes, but we can't close a meeting without praying so I'll say a really quick one. Then you can run!" What is it a race or something to finish?

    lol on some of these! "elements" definitely needs to go! :-)

    However, I've been labeled some interesting things from people outside the church too. "God Squad" being one of them. Think about what Jack Bauer could do with that ;-)

  • Matt Blick says:

    Maybe you could change it to "I have a density" – which is also true…

  • Matt Blick says:

    10 weeks later – I did it! I wrote the song!!!

    It's called "If you're here this morning"

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    That we do, Matt…and some of us are denser than others

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