Same Words, Different Dictionary

I have been reminded lately of the importance of clarifying terms. What means one thing to one person, means something completely different to another. I’ll give you a few examples from ministry.

Missional: To some, it means missions work — as in cross-cultural, overseas ministry. To others, it means evangelism — reaching others and bringing them to Christ. To others still, it refers to a lifestyle by Christians on mission for Christ’s Kingdom. Same word, very different implications depending on the meaning you ascribe.

Team: I don’t know anyone who would say they are not a team player. But what does the word “team” mean to them? Does it mean, “We are a team” (i.e., our contributions are different but pretty equal in importance) or does it mean “You are on my team?” (i.e., I need a team to accomplish my vision and goals).

Small Group: A lot of churches have small groups. But each church uses them differently in their overall ministry strategy. If you come from a church that believes small groups are the place for in-depth Bible study, you will be frustrated or disappointed at a church where the primary purpose of small groups is to build relationships without structured content or study.

Expository Preaching: Does it mean word-for-word, verse-by-verse, chunks of Scripture, “big idea,” or in-depth examination of the meaning of the original languages?

Growth: Rick Warren famously said that a healthy church will grow. But what does growth look like? Size? Depth? Health? How much? How fast? How can you tell?

What are some other examples or ministry words with different meanings?




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