Bailey Foxworth

Sometimes I feel like Christians speak their own language.

“When I was dead in my sin, I invited Jesus into my heart, made Him the Lord of my life, enjoy fellowship with Him and am now being sanctified daily by Him.”

If you’ve been following Jesus for a while, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

But if you’ve never set foot in a church, you might need a translator.

There’s no shame in not knowing what fellowship, sanctified or any of those other words mean. I was a Christian for nearly two years before I could define either of those words with any sense. (Sanctified means to become more like Jesus, and fellowship means to spend time with friends.)

Often, in the church, we hear words or phrases we may not understand. I know I still do.

So here are a few common phrases you might hear in the company of other Christians, and what they mean.

‘Be intentional’

The word intentional means to do something with great focus and purpose. In the church, being intentional can refer to many different areas of life, like parenting, marriage, friendships or work. But being intentional to do what, exactly?

Usually, when someone says to “be intentional,” it means to do something the way Jesus would’ve done it.

First John 2:6 says, “Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”

If anyone believes that Jesus is their Lord and Savior, they must model their lives after Jesus. This is their purpose: to look more like Jesus. Being intentional as a parent, spouse, neighbor, friend or coworker means to act and talk like Jesus would.


There’s a phrase in Matthew 28:19 that hung me up for several years. It’s part of Jesus’ Great Commission—Jesus’ parting words to His followers before He returned to Heaven.

It says, “‘Go and make disciples.’”

How can I make disciples if I don’t know what a disciple is?

The word disciple means a pupil or a follower. One Merrriam-Webster definition is “one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another.”

So, to be a disciple of Jesus is to accept Him and assist in the spreading of His Good News.

But what does that look like?

In John 13:35, Jesus says, “‘By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’”

‘Live on mission’

“Live on mission” is like the culmination of “discipleship” and “be intentional.”

Everything God has done, from creation to today, has been a part of His mission: to have a relationship with humanity.

Jesus had a mission: to show people how to live and then die on a cross for our sins and rise from the dead so that we can have a way to have a relationship with God forever.

Jesus also gave all who believe in Him a mission. (It’s the Great Commission.)

“‘Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’” (Matthew 28:19-20).

So, to live on mission is to tell the whole world about Jesus so they, too, can follow Him. Then, baptize them and teach them what Jesus commanded while He was on earth, assured that even though He is in heaven, He is with those who believe in Him.

It means to have relationships with people that point them to Jesus.

There are so many other words and phrases that pastors, Bible teachers and all Christians use in conversation that may not make much sense, such as “evangelism,” “Spirit-led,” “the Body of Christ,” “living water,” “be a witness” or “saved.”

Ultimately, these words and phrases are just different ways of describing God’s relationship with us, our relationship with Him and our relationships with others.

And the best way to learn what these words mean is to ask.

If being a disciple of Jesus means being His pupil, then the best way to learn is to ask Him.

So, if you hear a word or phrase you don’t understand, search for it in Scripture. If it’s not in there, ask someone you know who’s been following Jesus for a while.

My prayer is that their answer would point you to Jesus.

Bailey Foxworth is the assistant editor of The Southeast Outlook.