The Power of Common Language

Recently I’ve been brushing up on the Spanish I learned 16, er, a number of years ago in high school.  My current Spanish teacher even made me give a presentation about our church to a group of moms at a local elementary school–in Spanish.  While I know a little bit of Spanish, when I try to communicate with people in Spanish it is very difficult.  I can fumble my way through a conversation, but the depth of our communication is very limited.

When you try to communicate with someone without a shared language (or at least a fully shared language) there are a number of limitations.

  • You have a foggy idea of what someone is saying–there’s no clarity.
  • You can’t detect emotion as easily.
  • There is no possibility of nuance.
  • You have to work hard to understand each other which decreases desire to keep communicating.
  • You can’t accomplish anything with efficiency.  Usually trying to accomplish something without common language leads to frustration.

In many churches people try to accomplish the mission without having a common language.  Think about your church (or small group or whatever).  When words like discipleship, justice, salvation, mission, welcome, and repentance are used (you can add 50 more to the list) are people generally on the same page?  My experience is that we think everyone is on the same page but in reality there are significant differences among the people in a church in how they define important terms–even among the leaders.  If we don’t have a common language in the church we will experience all the problems listed above.

Want to know if people are on the same page?  Ask twenty random people from your church to define three of the words listed above in one sentence or less.  See what percentage of the answers are the same and what percentage are different.

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About Trevor Lee

Proud to be the husband of a wonderful wife and the father of two great kids. I love to hang out with them, hang out with others, read, lis

Posted on June 15, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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