Four Phrases Christians Need To Stop Saying Immediately


If you grew up in a Christian culture like me, you probably have used many of these phrases. Even though you had a good intention behind saying it, the effect was minimal, if not detrimental. These are very often used as empty filler phrases and turn out to sound Christianese to those who are not attuned to a Jesus culture. I hereby declare for the good of mankind and for the glory of God that today be the day when Christians stop saying these four phrases:

1. I Will Pray For You. How many times have you said this to your fellow brother or sister but have not actually prayed for them, ever. Why do we feel the need to say this, every time we hear someone who has a need? If we say this just to avoid the awkward silence, we need to stop. Unless you are going to go all Epaphras on your brother or sister, listen attentively and speak less.

2. He or She Is In A Better Place. Almost five years ago my dad went to be with Jesus after a fight with cancer. I can’t tell you how many times people said this to me. Do you really know what is a better place for my dad? A better place is with me, having coffee and discussing theology. A better place is at Christmas dinner surrounded by son, daughters, wife and grandkids. A better place is being able to see me graduate seminary or being there at church when I got ordained. Again, we speak with such authority like we know what that better place is. Sometimes, instead of using this empty filler phrase, we just need to be still and spend time with the grieving person.

3. Everything Happens For A Reason. If we are really honest with ourselves, most of what happens in our life is pretty unreasonable. How do you explain faith in Jesus or that miracle you experienced in your family. It is hard to put that into words. What about a tragedy or a catastrophe? How would a family member feel if you told them that their son or daughter who were killed in a car wreck was all a part of God’s magnificent plan. Most certainly it was. But was it reasonable? Not in the least bit. We can’t dismiss a monumental life event with such a flippant phrase.

4. When Are You Getting Married and/or When Are You Having Kids? This is probably the worst phrase(s) that people of faith use and mis-use habitually. I have noticed that I barely ever hear this from people who don’t subscribe to a faith at all.

Why is it that all of a sudden we begin to treat singleness as a disease of some sort. If we recall, both Jesus and Paul were single. Are people who are whatever age and single considered second class citizens in the church? Absolutely not. In fact, they probably have even more time and energy to devote to the cause of Christ.

Along the same lines, the most insensitive and non-Christian thing you can ask another couple is when they are having kids. How do you know that couple did not just go through a miscarriage and you are once again reminding them of the pain and grief associated with that. What if the woman had an abortion? What if the couple is infertile and can’t ever have kids. There are a million more reasons why these two questions are as insensitive as can be, but you get the picture. So we need to do a huge favor to our fellow brothers and sisters and outdo one another in showing honor – by doing something very simple: Stop asking these questions.

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Question: What other questions would you add to this list that Christians should stop asking? 


34 responses to “Four Phrases Christians Need To Stop Saying Immediately”

  1. Bogdan, I couldn’t agree more. The worst is when a loved one passes away and someone immediately quotes Romans 8:28. It’s frustrating that we can’t allow someone to grieve. I think most people are a bit scared of grief, and this is a coping mechanism for people who don’t know what to say.

    Similarly, my wife has gone through several years of health issues, and I can’t count the number of times a well-meaning person would say to us, “God has a plan.” It’s not that we didn’t agree or recognize it. It’s just not what we needed to hear when we were grieving the loss of our normal life and trying to figure things out. When people don’t know what to say in difficult moments, they fall back on these Christian catch phrases.

    1. Chris hi – exactly right with your comment, I am with you on this.

  2. Bogdan, I feel your pain in #2 but on the other hand I think the Apostle Paul disagrees with you. Check out Philippians 1:23 Those who have died are in a better place. Maybe it’s not the best thing to say sometimes but those words have certainly been a comfort to me on occasion when someone close to me died who had been in great pain before death.

    1. Caleb hi – I hear what you are saying but “better” is up for interpretation – for the person.

      1. Bogdan what person are you referring to?

        1. I think it was Russ 🙂

          1. Sorry, I think I’m confused. Your wrote “‘better’ is up for interpretation – for the person.” Does “person” refer to the person who died or the person on earth who is being told that their loved one is in a “better” place?

            If you’re talking about the loved one who was left behind then, yes, it may have been better for them if their loved one had not died. It’s just not clear from your comment what you meant by that.

          2. You got it – the latter.

  3. Woah. Strongly disagree with two and three.

    2. We can say a Christian person is in a better when he dies, because he/she is with Jesus. No matter what we say, to be with Jesus, in heaven, IS a better place. You can not say it would be better for your father to drink coffee and discuss theology, rather than to be with Jesus. You mention authority which I agree with, yet not even you have the authority to think where your father would be in a better place. But we believe, that with Jesus, it would be ‘a better place.’ Even better than with family and the events he mentioned. Also, even Paul mentions that he’d rather be with God than on earth. (Philippians 1:23-24) Which makes sense, if it would be a better place.
    3. Reason is the capacity for consciously making sense of things, applying logic, for establishing and verifying facts, and changing or justifying practices, institutions, and beliefs based on new or existing information. As Christians, it is logical to assume that everything has a reason, and that God is reason. Everything happens for a reason, for His reason. Concerning death, tragedy, or salvation, Romans 9 is our chapter for that. We can not say what is reasonable or not reasonable (concerning death,tragedy, and salvation), because we are not God. But we can say that it happened for a reason, for God’s reason. Which we can not comprehend and understand at times. It is what it is. And though it happened for a reason, when we grieve, we grieve for ourselves. We grieve because we will miss that person, and we will miss his/her legacy.

    These are just my opinions on these two topics.

    1. Noah hi – thank you for the comment and I think you might have demonstrated exactly the reason why I wrote this post – blessings to you brother.

      1. Demonstrated? Demonstrated what?

        1. I don’t think his point is about truth. His point is about being empathetic and caring.

          If your brother died in the holocaust it is true that 6 million other Jews died there also … but it isn’t empathetic or helpful to point that out for the person who is grieving the loss of their brother. Same thing on #2. It is true that they are in a better place … but that isn’t a helpful thing to say. It’s typically more helpful to be empathetic and sorry for that person’s loss.

          Same with #3. I’m sure there’s some reason but saying that is meaningless and not helpful.

    2. Noah,

      Regarding #2, yes we can make that theological statement. However, it’s always an exercise of cognitive dissonance to make sense of the fact that the very same people who declare “x is in a better place now” are so careful buckle up, get regular checkups, and take their diabetes medications. It seems so strange that most of us who speak of this “better” place are so intent on staying in this “worse” place.

      Regarding #3, again we can make that abstract theological statement, but the reality is that for the majority of suffering and pain, we cannot, and probably will not ever know of a reason. Do any of the 6 million Jews killed in the holocaust know or care about “the reason”? What about the children horrendously slaughtered in Rwanda? As their little bones were being crushed by the vicious machete blows, as their flesh was being torn by an cruel hail of bullets, the idea of “a reason” was quite useless to them. A little girl was brutally raped and murdered near my house, I don’t think she thought about the grand cosmic purposes, she merely pleaded for help, which tragically never came.

      Perhaps the only thing more frightening than saying “there was a purpose to this” is saying “there was no purpose at all.” In moments like these, I find it best to stay silent.

      1. Yuriy, that is not exercising cognitive dissonance because we can not do anything about it. I do want to be with Jesus, it is a matter of time for me to die. There is nothing I can do about me dying or not. If I could speed or slow my death, then yes, that statement could be a ‘cognitive dissonant.’ Also, for number three, not knowing the reason, doesn’t mean there isn’t a reason.

        But I do agree that in the case of tragedy, tragic death, and of the like, it might be better to stay silent. Yet, we must realize that there is a reason and a purpose, it’s just that we don’t know it. And cannot, according to Romans 9.

    3.  Avatar

      Spot on, Noah. With both of your comments.

  4. While I see your concern for authenticity in speech, I don’t agree with some of this list. Number 4 is fair. It can get old when people push you toward marriage and having children, especially when they don’t know your life. It’s much better to trust God’s will in matters of starting a family than be pushed by Christian society standards.

    Number 2 and 3 have already been touched on, so I’m just going to share about number 1. I don’t think it’s a case of needing to stop telling others that you’re praying for them, but of needing to hold yourself accountable for your words. If you tell someone you will pray for them, do it. Make it a priority. It can be as simple as saying a prayer silently as you’re still with that person. As Christians, we are called to carry each other’s burdens. We should be praying for one another.

    1. Awesome addition to the conversation Emily, thank you!

  5. Great post. Regardless of how theologically correct or sound whatever we say is, sometimes saying nothing and simply being there for a person is much more genuinely needed for that person. This is especially true for number 2 and 3, but applies to many other things in life. To those that may disagree, I recommend you try quoting Philippians 4:4 to your wife in response to her wanting to share with you how stressful her day was at work and post back the results.

    1. Good point Russ, thanks!

    2. And about the Php. 4:6 – you are spot on – and one of my favorite verses that I have committed to memory.

    3. Russ, you’re right we do need to take into consideration the situation and it’s often wise to stay silent. However, you also have to remember that Philippians 4:4 wasn’t written in the context of a bad day, it was written in the context of prison, persecution and immenent death, that was the time Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit decided to use words like “death is gain” and “Its far better to be with Christ” and “rejoice in the Lord always”. We should also not forget that when James wrote to Christians who were under intense persecution he opened his letter by telling them to be joyful. So in the end there is a place to use these words and to remind our brothers and sister in Christ of the reality of their heavenly home and the great joy that they can now have even when they have had a bad day.

      I understand that it may not have worked in your marriage but in my marriage I find that one of the most encouraging things I can do for my spouse is to focus her attention back on Christ and the great joy he offers on a daily basis. So, don’t be so afraid to comfort your wife next time with some amazing truths from God’s Word!

      1. That’ll preach! 🙂

      2. Thanks for your thoughts Caleb! On a similar topic, this video is of some relevance:


        1. Russ that video is gold and I would have to side with you on this. There is a proper time and place to say and to not say – and my goal is to say things in a most opportune time. So I am pretty sure we are all on the same page. It all depends on your relationship and that is unique to each individual — great discussion guys!

        2. Thanks! I love that video!

  6. Agree with all of the warnings! Except, with a modification for the very first one about prayer. Belonging to a prayer group, it has become natural to me to say “may I pray for you?”. If the person agrees, I will say a prayer.
    WHAT I WOULD ADD: Never say “Time will heal your pain/grief/loss”. It is simply an empty promise, that’s all.
    And, of course, never say never 🙂

    1. Exactly – such amazing points! Thank you Mariya!

  7. Bogdan, I have one question about forth point, so here it comes.
    When Are You Having Kids?

  8. Валентина Avatar

    Для Христианина – лучшее место в присутствии Христа, а не возле Вас, Вогдан, (для Вашего отца)! Другое дело – умирает неверующий (насколько мы можем знать?) и все успокаивают родных этими словами.

    1. Валентина спасибо за комментарий и за то что вы читаете блог, это для меня вдохновение что люди находят здесь что-то полезное. Я все равно остаюсь на той позиции которую я обьяснил в оригинальном посте. Да, тут нет аргумента что или моему Отцу или кому то другому горазде лучше быть в присутсвие Иисуса. Но, на тот момент именно мне лучше было чтобы он был со мной. Именно в этом была идея этого поста. Часто Христиане говорят вещи которые они сами до конца не продумали и не понимают какой damage могут нанести скоростными но с хорошими помышлениями словами. Благословений в Господе вам!

      1. Валентина Avatar

        Спасибо, Богдан! Я поняла Вас, но я прокоментировала отталкиваясь от этого – “Do you really know what is a better place for my dad?” .. и дальше… Конечно же для Вас лучше бы было, чтобы Ваш Папа был с Вами рядом! 🙂 . Желаю Вам подольше радоваться общением с близкими! Извините, что обидела! Не хотела! Лично я с нетерпением жду встречи с Господом на небесах, несмотря на то, что очень люблю своих РОДНЫХ! Благословений Вам в Вашем труде для Господа!

        1. Валентина, вы совсем не обидели. Это интернет поэтому у меня выробатался иммунитет к разным обидам 🙂 всегда рад к хорошему конструктивному разговору, какой он у нас и есть 🙂

  9. Great post Bogdan, I think all of all us have said these words in the wrong timing.

    1. Paul I agree, me included.

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