An Indiana megachurch pastor says he is annoyed at the word “saved,” especially when used among Christians to describe someone that has made a commitment to follow Jesus for the rest of their lives.
In one of his recent blog posts, Granger Community Church’s executive pastor, Tim Stevens, asked readers, “Does the Word 'Saved' Bother Anyone Else?”
Stevens told The Christian Post that he also has a problem with the phrase “born again.”
“I have similar hesitations with ‘born again’ probably because it’s also an insider term,” Stevens said. “'Born again' for the world at large is somewhat of a misunderstood term.”
Stevens, also author of Pop Goes the Church: Should the Church Engage Pop Culture?, says that he often writes blog posts about what has been on his mind for a while and in some cases, it helps him seek answers from others.
“I’ve recently noticed that I’m becoming more annoyed by the word ‘saved’ than ever before. Not in the ‘I saved money’ use of the word, but in the Christian-ese context: ‘Is Johnny saved?’ or ‘It’s only a matter of time until Martha gets saved,’" Stevens posted in his blog, LeadingSmart.com.
Christian cliché doesn’t sit well with him, Stevens told CP. He said it is important for Christians to not only live their faith, but talk about their faith in any setting, keeping in mind that some words don’t make sense to non-Christians.
“I think that so often when we use those terms in-house, we’re talking among Christians, we forget where we are at and we forget who we are with,” he said. “We use those words to translate outside (the Christian community) when they don’t mean anything to anyone or they ostracize or set us apart when we really want to be making connections.”
Stevens writes that he realizes “saved” “is a foundational word in the Christian faith, taken largely from Romans 10:13: 'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'"
He said “saved” can also imply “a once-and-for-all, passive event that happens to someone. Like they did nothing at all. And once they get it, they are good forever. I realize both of those things are true at their core. Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe. But it requires me to accept the gift and give my life to Him.”
When a Christian accepts Jesus into their life they are on a new life course and journey, he said.
“I think the word ‘saved’ doesn’t fully embrace that. It kind of points at the point of transaction and not the changed life. I don’t think it is the whole truth. It’s a discipleship process. Yes, maybe in a moment as I start on that journey.”
The Indiana pastor said he is also concerned about alienating people that are seeking to know God, but encounter a language they do not understand in a church setting.
“A lot of times churches can be a very uncomfortable space for someone who is searching. They feel this need for God, so they show up at church on a Sunday morning and then they just don’t get it because it’s not the world they live in. The language doesn’t make sense, the communication style is weird, the music is strange ... I think language is a big piece of that,” he observed.
The terminology that Christians use is vitally important, Stevens stressed.
“I think how we term things is huge,” he said. “Every industry, every group of people, they all have inside words which is fine. But I think that in the church world, as our purpose built into our mission is reaching the world, then we really have to think about those inside words that we use that either have no meaning or the wrong meaning.”
Stevens likes to substitute the word “saved” and describe committed Christians with phrases like “Christ follower,” “following Jesus,” and “someone that started on the journey of following Jesus.”
“Yes, there was a point when it began. When they prayed a prayer, they gave their life to Jesus. However, it’s a choice to follow Jesus the rest of their days. It’s a journey until the day we die to be more and more like Christ.”