Have you ever traveled to another country where they speak a language you don’t comprehend? Chances are you were uncomfortable. This, to some extent, is the struggle non-Christians have when they connect with a Christian church. A non-believer is faced with huge paradigm shifts of content, ideas, beliefs, and values. It is different to be a Christian. So, why would a church make it harder by using strange language?
Focus on these issues:
- Other religions are about how you get to God. Christianity is about how God has come to us. God became flesh in Jesus Christ. This shows that God doesn’t want anything to get in the way of our response. Jesus looked, talked, and dressed like us. God introduced His Son without additional barriers.
- Jesus sends His followers out with this same sensitivity: He said, “Eat what is set before you.” Subordinate your menu, your personal likes and dislikes, to those you are trying to reach. Nothing should be a roadblock, foreign, or offensive.
- The Apostle Paul said, “I will become all things to all people, so that by any means some might be saved.” This echoes John the Baptist, who said (about Jesus), “He must become more important, and I must become less important.”
- Every Christmas we sing, “Away in a manger, no crib for a bed…” and nostalgia rises within me. However, Christmas draws unchurched non-Christians to church. While we sing this song I love, we get to the verse, “The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes, but little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes.” What does it mean that the cattle are “lowing?” If you don’t know, you’re worshipping the nostalgia without meaning. Jesus spoke hard words about those who practiced empty religion. (“Lowing” is an old English word for “mooing.”) Make sense? Great – translate it!
- “How Great Thou Art” is another favorite. Problem is, no one talks that way anymore. When was the last time you met a friend on the street and she said, “Hey, how art thou?” In the church, it communicates that God is old, out of date, or foreign (16th century England). Does it feel warmly familiar to a life-long Christian like me? Of course! Can I be that selfish as a missionary Jesus calls to introduce others to Him? No way!
- Missionaries are taught to speak the “heart language” of the people they are trying to reach. If you were a missionary in Pattaya, Thailand, you would learn to speak Thai – not require people to learn English. Missionaries are taught that the “heart language” is the language people dream in. It is the language people make love in. Shouldn’t that be the language at your church?
Those who do not attend church say the church is not relevant. But God is relevant. The Bible is as relevant as today’s newspaper. Can we sing “how great You are!”? We can, and will, if we want to represent God well!
How have you successfully communicated with non-Christians? We welcome your comments below.
Kent Hunter, founder of Church Doctor Ministries, is known as the Church Doctor. His most recent e-books are The Future Is Now and The J-Dog Journey, available at no cost. Contact him at (800) 626-8515, by email, Twitter,Facebook, or visit www.churchdoctor.org.