Speaking a Different Language

By Shannon Youell

Sitting at the beach and staring at the waves, caught up in the rhythms of the immense forces that push and pull, I found myself in a pensive mood.

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I had earlier passed a church sign that read: “Wondering how you can be saved? Believe in the Lord Jesus and be saved!” Traffic was stopped at that point and I stared at that sign, turning the words around in my mind until traffic began to flow again.

Watching the waves, I pondered that sign. Who in our North American context is actually asking themselves how to be saved? Who would even know what it meant to believe in Lord Jesus? The answer of course, would be people who had some sort of assumed knowledge of the God of the Bible, of Jesus as Savior and Lord. The sign makes sense to those folk even if they are disinterested, disengaged or done with church and religion.

But what of our increasingly secularized culture? We now have men, women and children who have no context to place that into. To them the sign is meaningless, and when stopped in traffic and reading that sign, would only give it a cursory glance as it is in a foreign language.

The unchurched people I hang around with and know are rarely asking themselves that question.  They don’t see themselves as needing saving, and indeed, they don’t see themselves as sinners.

For all intents and purposes, these friends of mine are the “Nones“.  They have no historical or cultural memory of the Christian religion and do not consider themselves religiously affiliated at all.

Which brings me to the tension I see in that church sign. How can I talk about God, Jesus and gospel to people who have no context or even belief in a God who actually cares about the world?  To many, our assumed ways of talking about the gospel are like a foreign language.
 
“Could you tell a gospel story in a way that resonates with the nones? 
What would it sound like? 
What does re-imagining the Gospel sound like? 
(I’m not suggesting re-inventing, I’m curious about re-telling.)”  Rohadi 

Rohadi, a young pastor in Calgary Alberta, expounds on this further in his blog on telling the gospel story without using church language, here.

Which brings us to our Engaging Gospel Series. The series is shaped to help us re-shape our language and find multiple entry points to engage the Nones and Dones in our lives and neighbourhoods.  We learn the language of the day so we might engage in conversation that can open doors to journeying with folk towards God, the cross and then to the understanding of how we can be saved in the midst of the brokenness of the world we live in.

The Engaging Gospel Series is a good place to start in your churches and your small groups, to learn a “new” language to help us tell this wonderful story to the culture of our day.  This is what missionaries do and have always done: learn the language and the culture of the people with whom they wish share God’s Big Story.

Playoffs

The NHL playoffs have begun and I’m a tad excited. I really enjoy hockey. It’s fast paced, intense, kinda dangerous, and on TV every night! Unfortunately, I’m not home every night to watch the six hours of NHL hockey. It would probably be better if I were playing six hours of hockey per night… but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be interested in the games and I’d not be able to get out of bed for a week. hockeyskates

The Playoffs are “sudden death” or, more optimistically, “sudden life”. Players, coaches, and fans all know that if they lose the series, then they are finished. It’s over. Get out the golf clubs.

For many players, there may only be one chance in their career to get a chance to play in the Stanley Cup Finals, and each year 29 out of the 30 teams fall short of the glory of the Cup. Twenty-nine teams are losers. It’s not a very nice or fair system.

The Bible teaches that all of us fall short of the glory of God…in other words, every single one of us is a loser. Only one player ever has lived His life in such a way as to win, but he ended up drinking from the cup that took his life. However, the amazing thing about Jesus’ victory is that He invites the rest of the players on the planet to share in the victory! Which then means that every one of us who simply joins Jesus’ team actually ends up sharing in the victory and, in other words, is a winner! We all end up experiencing sudden life!

Pastor Joell Haugan
CBWC Church Planting Advisory Team

This article is reposted with permission from Pastor Joell’s blog.

It is Well

We recently sang the hymn It Is Well at our Sunday gathering. I began singing with this cynical paraphrase running through my mind:

Sometimes life gets nasty. But no worries, God. It’s all good.
Satan might chase me around, and I might lose my job or get in a car accident.
But don’t worry, God. It’s all good. I can take it.

Then these words rang out and hit me like the spray from a fire hose:
Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

What does it actually mean for it to be well with my soul? I’m fallen, and broken, and as much as I might be able to survive a few trials in life, without Christ my soul is not well.

This hymn isn’t a battle cry to reassure God that I’m OK and get myself all amped up to handle the trial-filled week ahead of me.

No—it’s the overwhelmed gasp of surrender and gratitude of my soul realizing that Christ has made me whole. Wow, God, you died to make me well. You defeated death on my behalf! Horatio Spafford couldn’t even pen this verse without stopping for a sigh of bliss:hymnbook

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

Have you taken this concept to heart lately? You no longer bear the burden and punishment for your sin. That is huge.

Cailey