Updated: Jan 23, 2020
Several years ago, a church member and I went to the Texas/Mexico border to deliver some bibles and supplies to a church in Piedras Negras, Mexico. We spent one night there before returning home. It was a great and "interesting" experience. The missionaries and the Pastor of the church were neighbors. They actually lived on the same street in a small neighborhood. Larry, our church member, stayed with the English speaking missionaries. I, however, spent the night with the Spanish-only pastor and his family.
One problem: I am English-only!
Although we struggled to communicate, we made the best out of the situation. It was a lot of fun (His young daughter's helped the best they could with their broken English) but it was like a real-life game of Charades!
The problem with communication was the language barrier. Neither of us were fluent in the other's language, but the amount of Spanish I learned in 24 hours with this Spanish-fluent family was unbelievable. My wife is a fluent Spanish-speaker. Many times she has said, "to be fluent in Spanish, you must immerse yourself into a Spanish-speaking culture." I believe! I can't imagine how much I would have learned if I had immersed myself into their culture for a few weeks! However, I have never been intentional about it, so...I still can't speak Spanish (I gotta learn me some Spanish)!
When it comes to the Gospel and Missional Responsibility, there is a "fluency" problem. Could it be that our fluency problem is an intentionality problem?
In his book, Gospel Fluency, Jeff Vanderstelt writes,
"Gospel Fluency is developed by being immersed into a Jesus saturated community. A Jesus-saturated community knows and speaks the gospel every day into everything so that all parts of our lives grow up into Christ and are eventually fully transformed by and submitted to Jesus Christ, who is everything for us."
If I am going to learn Spanish, I must be intentional about it. I am going to learn to speak and communicate the Gospel, I must be intentional about it. IntentionaIity always affects Impact. If we are not intentional, we will continue to be: Inadequately Equipped, Insecure in our Ability, Ineffective in our Mission.
I've learned that when I am adequately equipped, I am secure in my ability and more effective in my mission. The key is immersing ourselves and learning the "language!"