"Christian Terminology"


Table of Contents


As I continued to go to church with Dan and Don, I became increasingly aware that the church had its own "language." Many people in the church would use terms that I didn't understand. Some of the terminology was easy to pick up on, but much of it was confusing to me. This unique terminology included such utterances as "saved," "lost," "sanctified," "witnessing," "visitation," "tracts," "back-slider," "spiritual," "worldly," "brother," "sister," "testimony," "carnal," "conviction," "fellowship," "secular," "burden," and a whole lot more. In fact, a rather interesting conversation took place one night in the fall of 1982. I had decided to go walking the inner-city streets of Grand Rapids with Dan in order to share the gospel of Christ with people. We met at the church on "visitation" night. "Visitation" night was the night that the church sent church members to visit the homes of people who had recently visited the church (thus the term "visitation"). The church also sent teams to the inner-city streets and to the suburban parks for the purpose of handing out "tracts" (gospel fliers) and telling people about Jesus (the terms "witness" and "visitation" were used interchangeably to define this action). After Dan and I arrived at the church, a man asked me, "Are you going on visitation?"

I didn't know what he meant by the term "visitation." However, I had already learned what "witnessing" was, so I said, "No. I'm going witnessing!"

The man turned to one of the other adults and said with a laugh, "Did you hear that? I asked him if he was going on visitation and he said, 'No. I'm going witnessing.'"

The other adult jokingly responded, "I said that we were training them, but I didn't say that we were training them to be bright." I suddenly realized that the terms "visitation" and "witnessing" were synonyms. I don't think that their laughter was meant to be cruel because they were generally men of love and compassion; but I was very hurt by their laughter because I thought that they were making fun of me because of my ignorance of "Christian" terminology.