Gospel Fluency is...
Imagine enjoying a cup tea with a neighbor and clearly and spontaneously sharing the gospel with her in the course of the conversation. Or talking with a friend on the phone and naturally sharing what God has shown you from His word that morning. Or discipling new believers. Or training them to teach others. Or doing church together. And doing all of this in your new language! God calls us to live this way. He calls us to live gospel-fluent lives, both at home, and in our new languages and cultures. As cross-cultural workers we long for these moments and rejoice when we have them. At times we may wonder how to live this way in our new home. We may even be afraid or discouraged that we never will.
I have good news- we can! By God’s strength! Gospel fluency across cultures is impossible in our own strength. God is faithful and he will do it! Let’s take a quick look at what Gospel Fluency is not, and what it is. You may be surprised!
What Gospel Fluency IS NOT
Gospel Fluency is not simply a language to learn, a level to reach, a series of tasks to do, a set of skills to obtain, a plan, a strategy, or something we can do in our own strength.
What Gospel Fluency IS
Gospel Fluency is the abundantly clear, accurate, and natural expression of the gospel in our cross-cultural communication. It is usually conversational and always involves listening, attending, and inviting people to respond to the gospel. It is a daily practice, a craft, a deliberate cross-cultural Godward way of life. It is a valid expression of who we are in Christ in another language and culture. It is the gospel flowing from our daily lives in Christ into the lives of those around us who need to hear the gospel. It is our daily living testimonies. It is a life of humility, surrender, persistence, compassion, love, and prayer. It is often painful and always joy-filled. It is for life.
We try to not chase language levels but to just focus on steady progress in the ability to communicate in the target language. Let's not work hard just to get to the next level or move up a slot. Let's work hard to progress in language so that we can better communicate Truth. (MD, a language coach in Central Asia)
A word will come to mind. I know that I know that I know God reminded me of that word I committed to memory two years ago...through prayer, because of constantly asking God, 'God fill me with your Spirit today to do the things you've called me to do. Including speaking the language of the people you've called me to'. (AN, a language learner in South Asia)
When we live with a Godward understanding and outflow of who we are in Christ in this world this has a direct relationship to how we (or at least how I) relate to God, and therefore, to others. When I cannot see and live in the fullness of my identity in Christ, I will always struggle with doubt and timidity in giving this amazing gift of gospel to those in another language and culture. There's a direct relationship between how honestly and "faith-filled" I walk in my identity in Christ (and this may sound crazy, but I so often feel I'm not even 20% there!) and being really self-aware, celebrating the gift of being a global citizen, and finding a powerful joy-filled, highly compassionate path of life in all circumstances, relationships, language, cultures, encounters, work, tasks, projects, conversations, prayers, worship, and all of this deeply rooted in the singular truth: my Heavenly Father loves me! And I know his love, and live in it, am bound by it, and express it in all truth in my life. (JB, a cross-cultural worker in East Asia)