A Common Vocabulary
People of God at Ebenezer,
A common vocabulary! I think more and more about what a blessing it is to hear and understand each other, or, sometimes, what a challenge it is to listen receptively and perceive each other’s point of view. Two summers ago our family traveled to Norway to reconnect with Ginny’s father’s family. To prepare for this trip Ginny and I spent months listening to Norwegian language tapes in the car and practicing our skills with each other. At times we felt confident in our progress; at other times we realized we weren’t even conversing as well as Norwegian toddlers. None of that mattered. As it turned out the folks on my father–in-law’s island spoke a completely different dialect than the one we learned. And they all spoke English about as well as we did. Thankfully we found a common vocabulary!
In the post–millennial Church we spend a lot of time thinking about common vocabulary. During the Sunday School hour last month a group of us had conversations about divergent forms of Christianity. One common component of successful, vibrant, modern ministries is that they learn to fill established church words with fresh and helpful images. We can no longer talk about “grace” in Church and simply assume everyone understands what we mean (“the table prayer?” “not falling down?”). But a faith community like ours is so effective at helping spiritual seekers to experience what it means to receive gifts we haven’t earned and can never deserve. And so people come to know God’s grace.
It’s been rightly pointed out that there is no such thing as a perfect conversation. We always miss each other to some degree. But the longer we stay engaged and stay committed to positive engagement the better the chance we will reach a level of mutual understanding. We will be challenged in the next months and years as never before to over Christ to the world with new words andnew images. Talk to me about your ideas for communicating the Gospel in new ways, and engaging the Christ–Hungry world that surrounds us!
Your partner in ministry,