Is the Best Term “Christian” or “Follower of Christ?”

As a pastor of a mid-sized church, I try to read broadly enough to understand the current Christian vernacular. My current read, Deep Churchunpacks the terminology of emerging/emergent church and those that think more traditionally and suggests an in-between position. I recommend it.

Through my reading, I’ve noticed the past few years that the church’s vernacular seems to be in constant flux, depending on who you read or listen to. The church growth movement taught me avoid certain words or phrases for fear of turning off the listener. Other recent voices suggest new terminology as well.

  • Some replace such terms as justification, sanctification, and atonement with other words with less syllables.
  • The term seeker was/is used as a preferred word for  a lost person.
  • Salvation is now cross the line of faith.
  • The newest replacement phrase is follower of Christ in lieu of Christian or believer.

When I preach and teach, I try to use theological terms that make sense to the listener. If you listen to any of my messages, you’ll probably find that my word choice matches the above.

But the last one, follower of Christ, even though I sometimes use it, feels disingenuous to me.

I’m not sure why I feel that way.

Is it because I’ve used believer and Christian for so long that subconsciously I don’t like change?

Is is it because I feel like I’m trying to be theologically hip by using the coolest new words or phrases? (I am not the coolest pastor around. I don’t drink beer, smoke cigars, or study at Starbucks while having deep spiritual conversations with the barista. A future blog post.)

Or, is it just too new for me to feel comfortable using it?

I’m still wrestling with this one. I’d welcome your thoughts.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.