Fluency in a specific language certainly has perks. Not being fluent has decided downfalls.
I remember being on a short-term mission trip to Peru, when one of our team members attempted Spanish. This was not an exercise in fluency. My well-meaning friend was trying to buy a soccer jersey, but instead asked, “How much to love the donkey?” It’s a wonder we didn’t land ourselves in a Peruvian jail. The lack of fluency can have disastrous results!
This past Sunday, Michael struggled understanding the pastor. “Dad,” he asked, “That pastor just had bad grammar. He wasn’t speaking right or something.” Interestingly, at the end of his message, the pastor admitted he was under the influence of cough medicine. So maybe he did slur his words a bit. “Michael,” I inquired, “What are you talking about? When did the pastor not say something right?” “Dad, he just kept saying, ‘what are baptism.’ What the heck was that? ‘What are baptism!’ That AIN’T right?” (I smiled as I glanced at Michael in the rear view mirror)
Fluency is important. I’ll explain Michael’s language dilemma in a sec.
Jeff Vanderstelt writes about Gospel fluency in his latest book of the same title. Vanderstelt challenges: “A disciple of Jesus should know, believe, ad be able to speak the Gospel. You talk about what you love, and you love what you talk about.”
At Cumberland, we consistently talk about the Gospel. Since we launched a series in Mark several years ago called “The Epic Gospel,” we’ve been Gospel saturated. For those CCCers along for the ride, they’ve heard the familiar Gospel plot line of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration. Years later we’ve begun to see Gospel transformation in our DNA and language. Vanderstelt remarks, “You want to change a culture? Give them a new story. Language will follow.” Gospel fluency.
It’s my heart felt prayer that my family, my church, and I have Gospel fluency. I want to talk about Jesus more and recognize Gospel truths in any and every situation. I want to go beyond Gospel tweets and posts to a dripping Gospel fluency. “The feet that run and carry our hands and feet that display the Gospel must also bring along mouths ready to declare the Gospel,” Vanderstelt writes. At Cumberland, we have served well to display the Gospel, may God give us wisdom and mouths ready to declare it.
My daughter Morgan begins college at Georgia Tech in a matter of days. Ugh. Her new roommate assignment is with a young gal struggling with her identity. She is transgender. Sherry and I’ve struggled knowing how to direct Morgan. We’ve had great conversations and study times with Morgan during this break.
Morgan has decided to move forward with her new roommate. Morgan is Gospel centered, equipped, and has capably developed her Gospel fluency. It’s time to let her fly and let the Gospel be the power it is.
This morning, Morgan, Michael, Sherry, and I had breakfast at a bayside pier. We had a great opportunity to digest a chapter out of “The Gospel Centered Life.” We were working on our Gospel fluency. This Fall, CCC will go through “The Gospel Centered Life” on Sunday mornings and in our Life Groups. My prayer is that an outbreak of Gospel fluency erupts.
Language and fluency are critically important. Just ask Michael. “Dad, he just kept saying, ‘what are baptism, what are baptism.’ What was wrong with that guy?” Sherry and I laughed. The preacher had announced they would be doing baptisms in the ocean later that day. His sermon was out of I Corinthians 15, and he also talked a lot about water baptism. WatER Baptism! What are baptism! Water baptism. I’m laughing as I write this. I’ll blame the cough medicine.
Study break is wrapping up for another year. I’ve read a stack of stuff. I’ve pondered, prayed, and played a lot. One final blog on Sunday.
(Author’s Note: reading from Mark 12-Luke 10; “Gospel Fluency” by Jeff Vanderstelt; “After 50 Years Of Ministry” by Bob Russell)