Thursday, May 24, 2007

What Language Are You Speaking?

¿Se Habla Español?

You've seen them, right?
You've seen the signs, haven't you?
Signs letting you know that someone in the building speaks Spanish?


As I drive around the area where I live, I see them often. The signs let you know that, although most business in our area is conducted in English, if you speak Spanish, someone there in that business speaks Spanish as well. You can understand and be understood.

This got me to thinking.
Got me thinking about our churches.
Thinking about the language we speak in our churches.
If you are from 'around here', from a church family, grew up in a church, then you know the language. You know the language well.

But what if you aren't from 'around here'? What if you are new to a church? Will you know the language? Will you understand the culture? Or will it all sound 'Greek' to you?

Perhaps we should put a sign up that says "We speak world".

Now before someone gets uptight, let me explain. Yes, I know that many of our churches have become 'seeker sensitive' and some have really brought the world in to the church instead of taking the church to the world. There are churches that 'accept' everyone. There are churches that look more like a rock concert than a place of worship and they all claim to 'speak' the language of the world.

However...
However what I'm thinking is this...
We need to let the world know that we hear, speak, and understand their language. And help them understand ours.

Like this...

'Susie' has three children and an ex-husband who left her. She works to support them and they live in a run down apartment. Can you speak her language? Can you meet her where she lives? Can you understand her hurt? Or do you just expect her to understand you when you say "All things work together for good..." or "This too shall pass"? What does that mean to her if she has never heard the good news? Do you tell her "come to our church, it has all the answers"? If so, what does that mean to her if she's never been to a church, if she doesn't even know the questions she needs to have answered?

Or this...

'Johnny' decides at mid-life to check this religion thing out. He comes to your church. It's his first time in any church at all. He wears his favorite t-shirt, jeans and flip-flops. He walks through the door of your church and what do you do? Do you ignore him thinking he'll find his way on his own? Do you look the other way because he should be wearing his 'church clothes' in your church? Do you expect him to know what to do when the offering plate is passed or the Lord's Supper is served? Are you appalled when he thinks the plate is a handout and takes money out instead of putting anything in?

Do we expect the world to know our language and customs, perhaps by osmosis? Are we too 'good' to take the time to explain the things we take for granted to someone who has never studied our ways and our words? Can we put 'salvation' in words the world understands? Can we explain 'sin' and 'repentance' in their lingo or do we give up on them if they don't understand our vernacular?

What language will you speak to the world with today? Will you speak 'world' with someone today and start a 'Bible as a Second Language' class with someone in need? Will you let them know it's OK to come as they are and learn as they go?

Ezekiel 3:4-6 (The Message) Then he told me, "Son of man, go to the family of Israel and speak my Message. Look, I'm not sending you to a people who speak a hard-to-learn language with words you can hardly pronounce. If I had sent you to such people, their ears would have perked up and they would have listened immediately.

6 comments:

Connie Barris said...

well said..

I might have to print this off...

we are having this issue.. believe it or not...

our youth.. well, they wear, OH MY... flip flops to church...
I even let my own child to wear them... I"M going to well flip flop hell..
Sorry, if I have offended anyone.. but didn't Jesus wear them??
Some of the other / more mature people of the church are stroking...
Why does it matter,,,??

this is one of my pet peeves..

Maybe I am wrong.. and if I am.. then God will deal with me...

Sharon, you have just opened up a Pandora's Box....

Connie

Sharon @ Little Lessons said...

Connie,
Thank you!

Hopefully, instead of pandora's box, we've released the Holy Spirit to work in our lives and to take our spiritual blinders off...wouldn't THAT be cool!

Feel free to print it off, forward it via email, whatever...under one condition :-) That you seriously pray for the Spirit to use it to speak to the receiver...OK :-)

Perhaps we can help teach the language of love to those who see the clothes more brightly than the soul.

Connie Barris said...

Oh yea.. I would never use this as a weapon but a tool of love...

when I hear the elders speak, I try to encourage a conversation.. asking them questions.... sometimes they answer their own question...

Alot of times I blow smoke and say something then I say now let's go and do what I am really going to do..LOL

I find myself being just like them at times... so I can see their side at times...

we are all in it together...

I am soooo said to said, I can get caught up in this game of judging and i have to be careful...

you make a good point...if we could all just remember to see it like Jesus does..

CrownLaidDown said...

Lord, give me lessons in this "language" thing. I want to be your mouthpiece!

Thank you for sharing that Connie! And THANKS for your prayers.
Love in Him,
Holly

Connie Barris said...

Sharon, TAG YOUR IT...

come and see

Susan said...

I LOVE this post!! You're SO RIGHT. I am blessed that I am in a place where everyone can be who they are and where they are and it's quite OK!!

:-) Susan