A challenging part of conversation is understanding the definition of the words that we use within a conversation.
For example, when I say the word Christian, depending on your experience, you may immediately think ‘follower of Christ’ or you might think ‘judgmental, self-righteous jerk.’
How about the word church? ‘Brick building, charismatic pastor, Sunday morning meeting’ or ‘the people of God throughout the earth.’
And how about those who have left church? Are they ‘malcontent church-hoppers’ or ‘sincere believers seeking a new way to express mission and community?’
Because of our experiences, we bring presuppositions into our conversations.
The word pastor is almost always used to mean ‘the central leader figure of a religious organization’. What if the central leader’s gifting isn’t pastoral? What if there are others in the organization who also pastor?
Some 5-fold stereotypes-
Apostle – someone who wants to start a network
Prophet – traveling fortune-teller
Evangelist – we hope someone will reach the lost
Pastor – the guy who gets paid to be in charge
Teacher – teaches the adult Sunday School class
How about the word elder? Does your mind conjure up an image of ‘the stubborn older guy who is always resisting change’ or an image of ‘the compassionate wise person who serves others?’
Mission? ‘A two-week trip to Mexico’ or ‘how I live every day’.
Seems that even though we are all speaking English, we aren’t all speaking the same language.