Ten Cliches Christians Should Never Use

An associate of mine shared this list of 10 "cliches" that we may want to loose ...

"We Christians have a remarkable talent for sticking our feet in our mouths. When searching the words most commonly associated with “Christian,” the list ain’t pretty. I think part of this can be attributed to a handful of phrases that, if stricken from our vocabulary, might make us a little more tolerable. Yes, these things may mean something to you, but trust me, non-Christians don’t share your love for these tried-and-true cliches.

So in no particular order, here are ten phrases Christians should lose with a quickness:

“Everything happens for a reason.” I’ve heard this said more times than I care to. I’m not sure where it came from either, but it’s definitely not in the Bible. The closest thing I can come up with is “To everything, there is a season,” but that’s not exactly the same. The fact is that faith, by definition, is not reasonable. If it could be empirically verified with facts or by using the scientific method, it wouldn’t be faith. It would be a theory. Also, consider how such a pithy phrase sounds to someone who was raped. Do you really mean to tell them there’s a reason that happened? Better to be quiet, listen and if appropriate, mourn alongside them. But don’t dismiss grief or tragedy with such a meaningless phrase.

“If you died today, do you know where you’d spend the rest of eternity?” No, I don’t, and neither do you. So stop asking such a presumptuous question as this that implies you have some insider knowledge that the rest of us don’t. And seriously, if your faith is entirely founded upon the notion of eternal fire insurance, you’re not sharing testimony; you’re peddling propaganda.

“He/she is in a better place.” This may or may not be true. Again, we have no real way of knowing. We may believe it, but to speak with such authority about something we don’t actually know is arrogant. Plus, focusing on the passing of a loved one minimizes the grief of the people they left behind.

“Can I share a little bit about my faith with you?” Too often, Christians presume we have something everyone else needs, without even knowing them first. Ask someone about their story, but maybe not the second you meet them. Christian evangelism often is the equivalent of a randy young teenager trying to get in good with his new girlfriend. When your personal agenda is more important than the humanity of the person you’re talking to, most people can sense the opportunism from a mile a way.

“You should come to church with me on Sunday.” It’s not that we should never invite people to church, but too much of the time, it’s the first thing we do when we encounter someone new. My wife, Amy, and I started a new church eight years ago, founded on the principle of “earning the right to invite.” Invest in people first. Listen to their stories. Learn their passions, their longings, and share the same about yourself. Then, after you’ve actually invested in each other, try suggesting something not related to church to help you connect on a spiritual level. If the person really gets to know you and wants to know more about why you live your life the way you do, they’ll make a point to find out. Then again, if you come off as just another opinionated, opportunistic Christian, why should they honor your predatory approach with a visit to the church that taught you how to act that way in the first place?

“Have you asked Jesus into your heart?” As many times as I’ve heard this, I still don’t really know what it means. why my heart? Why not my liver or kidneys? This also makes Christianity sound like a purely emotional experience, rather than a lifelong practice that can never entirely be realized. But yeah, asking someone if they’re engaged in a lifelong discipline to orient their lives toward Christlike compassion, love and mercy doesn’t exactly have the same ring to it.

“Do you accept Jesus as your personal lord and savior?” Again, this is not in the Bible. Anywhere. And for me, it goes against the whole Christlike notion of the suffering servant. People tried to elevate Jesus to the status of Lord, but he rejected it. So why do we keep trying? Plus, the whole idea of a lord is so antiquated, it has no real relevance to our lives today. Be more mindful of your words, and really mean what you say.

“This could be the end of days.” This is one of my favorites. We Christians love to look for signs of the end of the world; we practically have an apocalyptic fetish. It’s like we can’t wait until everything comes to a smoldering halt so we can stand tall with that “I told you so” look on our faces, while the nonbelievers beg for mercy. Yeah, that sounds like an awesome religion you’ve got going there. Sign me up!

“Jesus died for your sins.” I know, this is an all-time Christian favorite. But even if you buy into the concept of substitutionary atonement (the idea that God set Jesus up as a sacrifice to make good for all the bad stuff we’ve done), this is a abysmal way to introduce your faith to someone. I didn’t ask Jesus to die for me, and if I’m not a Christian, I really have no concept of how that could possibly be a good thing. The whole idea of being washed clean by an innocent man’s blood is enough to give any person nightmares, let alone lead them into a deeper conversation about what Christianity is about.

“Will all our visitors please stand?” If someone finally is brave enough to walk through the doors of your church, the last thing they want is to be singled out. They probably don’t know the songs you’re singing or the prayers or responsive readings you’re reading. Depending on the translation of the Bible you use, the scripture may not make much sense, and they probably have no idea where the bathroom is. So why add to the discomfort by making them stand so everyone can stare at them? Also, calling someone a visitor already implies they are simply passing through, that they’re not a part of things. Instead of “visitor” or “guest,” try something less loaded like “newcomer.” Better yet, walk up to them, introduce yourself and learn ""
By Christian Piatt 
Share your thoughts, please adhere to doing so with  authenticity, support, and respect. 
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9 Responses Aug 6, 2012

Just one comment. One can never understand the Scriptures without understanding His words from the beginning. It is like trying to make your own story out of the last few chapters without the foundations expressed as the understanding as laid out before us. Another way of putting it would be....trying to learn rocket science without math.
But my biggest pet peeve is Christians assuming they have the answers when it was given to another people group to share...all the while killing the truth of God and making it foolishness.

"People tried to elevate Jesus to the status of Lord, but he rejected it. So why do we keep trying?" He is a liar, and one can spend all day in effectively refuting him on this.. Jesus actually accepted worship, something that even angels in the Bible vigorously refused.

I think it is very, very sad that someone who says stuff like "even if you buy into the concept of substitutionary atonement" is working as a chaplain in the name of Christianity.

I was shocked when I saw that this guy was a chaplain as well.

Interesting ... An apologetic view not sure as to its accuracy.

For the most part I agree with the things you share, but there are parts of this I don't agree with. Here is how I see this:<br />
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1.) Everything happens for a reason<br />
- Technically everything does happen for a reason, especially for the Christian whom the Father is in the process of molding us into the image of Jesus Christ. Other than that, the reason something happens is because someone else caused it to happen, whether on purpose or through neglect. There is always a reason something happens.<br />
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2.) If you died today, do you know where you’d spend the rest of eternity?<br />
- Actually you can know this. 1 John 5:13 states "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. " Notice the phrase "that ye may know that ye have eternal life". God expects us to know if we are saved, and gave us 1 John as the test to examine ourselves.<br />
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3.) He/she is in a better place.<br />
- This would only apply to those who professed Christ as their savior. If they lived a questionable life and never professed Christ I would refrain from using this phrase, although I don't normally use it in the first place.<br />
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4.) Can I share a little bit about my faith with you?<br />
5.) You should come to church with me on Sunday.<br />
- These two are phrases I would not use unless I had already established a relationship with the individual I was speaking with. Of course my lifestyle would play a significant factor and my reaction if they don't act interested. Sharing and spreading the gospel is something that is commanded, not something given as an option. Inviting to church should be something that happens after you have established a strong testimony with them and should never be forced. Also, the church is for believer's, not the lost. Visiting a church should not be the first time a lost individual hears the gospel.<br />
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6.) Have you asked Jesus into your heart?<br />
- I've questioned this phrasing myself, and while I don't use it, I don't judge those who do. The heart is the core of our being, and to considering that God dwells within you after you trust in Jesus Christ, the phrasing does work. Romans 10:9 says "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."<br />
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7.) Do you accept Jesus as your personal lord and savior?<br />
- Paul called Jesus Lord on the Damascus road in Acts 9:5, so I would say that this is valid. In 2 Timothy 1:10 Paul writes "But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:" Christ is both Lord and Savior, there is no denying it. Also, 1 John 5:12 says "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." and in Romans 8:9 Paul writes "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." There is an "ownership" factor involved. Christ is my savior, and I belong to him alone. That's all there is to it.<br />
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8.) This could be the end of days.<br />
- Technically we've been in the last days since Jesus Christ came. This is nothing new.<br />
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9.) Jesus died for your sins.<br />
- Actually, this is a personal one for me. Yes he did die for "your" sins. Romans 5:6 and 8 say "For while we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly." and "But God commended his love toward us, in that, which we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." 1 John 2:2 says "And he (Christ) is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." This is also supported by the following verses:<br />
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1 Timothy 4:10 - "For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe."<br />
Hebrews 2:9 - "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man."<br />
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Christ died for your sins, plain and simple. And God didn't ask for your permission to die for your sins, as he doesn't need anyone's permission. He did it and commands us to believe. Acts 17:30 - "And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent:"<br />
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10.) Will all our visitors please stand?<br />
- This is the only one I have not experienced and probably the only one I agree with as it stands. Visitors should not be called out.

Ah, point noted. Reading back through it I can see that. Don't know how I missed it before. I'll be sure to check back tomorrow :)

great post

Amen! I wish this got slipped into the programme at my church for all to read!

Well said! My mother is a convert to roman catholicism. They seem to me the true roman catholicism. T they seem to adhere more to the canon of the church than I, born and bred catholic. Nine years in a first to eighth grade school (failed fifth but thats another story). Then ninth ,tenth grades at the catholic high school (all male). We had a religion class every day. Often as life is, the bible's interpretation was subject to the teachers meaning of the message. I get the feeling most of us catholics are quietly smug believing we are the true religion. A lot of protestant sects are obvious spin offs. Usually to elimanate an uncomfortable church law or ism. I love the bible its history lessons, philosophies and the theology of my faith. I welcome debate or interpretation for the sake of debate. N not everyone is well schooled in thier bible and can only argue what they've heard from the pulpit as opposed to study and testing. We all have different meanings for the same word. Unless previously agreed meanings are in place as in philosophy, defining terms. Here we are, I dont say my church says... or we're number one, etc. I listen and hope my response is as important as thier statement is to them and me . Too often in debate I've get to a point where they have come yo a dead end and can only repeat what they've heard on sunday. They can't or won't allow themselves to ponder another thought, even a slightest difference. It implies to me a no tolerance mindset.(Remember my quiet smugness). I'm not speaking for the church here, just my interpretation. If our faith our spirituality is strong we should easily be able to listen to satan and be ok because of our faith . I like you style. There was no name brand religion mentioned our implied but simple truths we've ask been taught or heard, just not in twenry five words or less. I'm spiritual more so than religious,i think. I'm a fallen away catholic as they say. <br />
My intention h here was to compliment you in case nothing else here made sense. I don't proof read well. The bible is ambiguous. Like the constitution. It allows for evolution of thought and changing times. Whether intentional at the time or not. I like to say we are made in His likeness, not just like him.

Some of my "born again" friends seem to be the worst culprits when it comes to the use of many of these phrases. You are 100% right when you talk about the effect of these lines have on the recipiant. They are more of a wedge than an invite. Thanks for the post.