• Preston Fidler

What can I do in church?


Learners often experience anxiety related to participation in local church. For some reason they feel like they need to be able to "do" everything at church that they did in their home language and location, even if those things are above their language level. I thought it could be helpful for them to see a list of proficiency-based activities[i] that they could reasonably expect to be able to do at each level and sub-level of ACTFL[ii] proficiency in church. This takes the pressure off of them from doing things they aren't ready to do yet, as well as maybe push some of them who aren't really engaging as much as they could, considering their current language level. Here are some notes to help you get the most out of these activities:


• These activities are proficiency-focused (what you can do in the language right now, and how well you can do it), and based mostly on your growing ability to comfortably, spontaneously participate in the activities normally associated with being a part of church in your new language.


• These activities are contextual to my language and culture, so will need to be adapted to your language and culture.


• These activities do not include your ability to preach or teach, as those activities, even at the highest levels of proficiency, are not engaged in with full spontaneity, but rather with some level of preparation.


• Be on the lookout for nuanced changes as the levels progress. Some activities remain the same, while some change slightly to reflect advancement between the different levels. For example: An intermediate-low level learner can expect to be able to understand the general meaning of some prayer requests, while an intermediate-mid level learner can expect to be able to understand the general meaning of most prayer requests.

Novice

Low

• Greet everyone appropriately

• Follow and sing along with hymns

• Follow along with printed text or text on a screen (Scripture, prayers, etc.)

• Begin to recognize numbers as they are said (in hymn numbers, verse references, etc.)

Mid

• Greet everyone appropriately

• Be able to ask other church members 3-4 basic questions about themselves and their families (name, where they are from, family information, etc.)

• Be able to share 3-4 sentences of personal information with other church members (name, where you are from, family information, etc.)

• Follow and sing along with hymns

• Follow along with printed text or text on a screen (Scripture, prayers, etc.)

• Begin to recognize numbers and simple sentences

• Say simple, memorized words

• Examples:

- “Amen” after prayers and Scripture readings

- “Thank you” when receiving the Lord’s Supper

High

• Greet everyone appropriately

• Expand on questions and conversations with other church members about topics such as daily life, family, and simple past events

• Follow and sing along with hymns

• Follow along with printed text or text on a screen (Scripture, prayers, etc.)

• Begin to recognize books of the Bible and more expansive sentences

• Expand on simple, memorized words and phrases

• Examples:

- “Amen” after prayers and Scripture readings

- “Thank you” when receiving the Lord’s Supper

- “Praise the Lord” after a praise or testimony is shared

- “I am thankful for _____” as a simple addition to prayer time

• Read a short Bible verse or passage out loud

• Give encouragement to a church member from Scripture (showing them or reading to them a specific Scripture passage to encourage them)

Intermediate

All of the activities included in the Novice Level as well as the following:

Low

• Understand the general meaning of a few prayer requests

• Continue to engage other church members in basic conversation

• Give encouragement to a church member from Scripture and using simple creative expression related to the Scripture

• Share a simple, prepared prayer request

• Pray a pre-written prayer

• Read longer passages of Scripture aloud

• Understand the general direction of a sermon

• Ask and answer simple questions about the sermon or the passage being studied

Mid

• Understand the general meaning of most prayer requests

• Continue to engage other church members in more expansive conversation

• Give encouragement to a church member using Scripture and simple creative expression related to the Scripture, including simple personal testimony

• Share a simple, spontaneous prayer request

• Pray a simple spontaneous prayer

• Read longer passages of Scripture aloud

• Understand the main points of a sermon

• Engage in basic dialogue about the sermon or the passage being studied

High

• Understand the specific meaning of most prayer requests

• Continue to engage other church members in more expansive conversation

• Give encouragement to a church member using Scripture and simple creative expression related to the Scripture, including more detailed personal testimony

• Share a more detailed spontaneous prayer request

• Pray a simple spontaneous prayer

• Read longer passages of Scripture aloud

• Understand the main points and application points of a sermon

• Engage in basic dialogue about the sermon or the passage being studied

Advanced

All of the activities included in the Novice and Intermediate Levels as well as the following:

Low

• Understand all prayer requests

• Share a detailed personal testimony

• Narrate a familiar passage of Scripture in some detail using spontaneous expression

• Regularly pray a more complex spontaneous prayer about familiar topics

• Follow a sermon, including all of its main points and application points, and engage in more complex dialogue about it afterwards with other church members

Mid

• Understand all prayer requests

• Share a detailed personal testimony

• Narrate and explain a familiar passage of Scripture using spontaneous expression

• Regularly pray a more complex spontaneous prayer about familiar topics

• Follow a sermon, including all of its main points and application points, and engage in more complex dialogue about it afterwards with other church members

• Express opinions or feelings in a small group study

High

• Understand all prayer requests

• Share a detailed personal testimony

• Fluently explain and discuss persuasively many passages of Scripture with spontaneous expression

• Regularly pray a complex spontaneous prayer about almost any topic

• Follow a sermon, including all of its main points and application points, and give a summary of it to someone who had not attended

• Express opinions or feelings in a small group study and defend them

• Give advice to church members regarding their life, including your reasons for your advice

• Provide simple, summarizing translation for visitors

Superior

All of the activities included in the Novice, Intermediate, and Advanced Levels as well as the following:

• Give Biblical counsel in culturally appropriate manner

• Regularly pray freely and spontaneously

• Understand all interactions and presentations

• Participate fully in small-group studies

• Be able to debate an issue (not publicly) with confidence and grace

• Respond appropriately to perceived hostility, blaming, put downs, etc.

• Fluently explain and discuss persuasively most passages of Scripture with spontaneous expression

• Use illustrations and analogies effectively in conversation

[i]Amy Morrison created these activities from “task and topic” lists I adapted from ACTFL “can do” statements. [ii] https://www.actfl.org

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