What is "Language 180" anyway?
It all started several years ago when I had reached a breaking point in my language and ministry. My life was full of meetings, travel, and emails, my language had plateaued, and my ministry in the language had likewise flatlined. I shared this with some brothers for accountability and resolved to make a change. It helped that they were feeling some of the same dynamics, so we were able to agree together to invest one-third of our ministry time specifically for the purpose of getting sharper and practicing ministry in the language. Just one-third! Do that math. That's only 3 hours or 180 minutes. This was a do-able goal for me. And it literally changed my life. That was how language 180 began.
What happens when you choose to do something new and then realize your priorities start to shift into the direction that you had envisioned all along? It was like my sense of calling was rekindled! I knew that I was fundamentally called to teach the gospel to my lost neighbors in a way they could understand it, in their language. But I had somehow got it backwards. Everything else was to facilitate that, not take away from that. So, as I began to invest in each of three 60 minute periods-of-time each day, my life began to get into alignment. Let me explain how this happened.
For the 60 minutes of my day I began to spend time in God's word and in prayer, as much as possible, in my new language. I had to grow in this understanding. But I discovered that just as my soul was enriched through spending time in God's word and in prayer in my mother tongue, by God's amazing grace I could this experience more and more in my new language, too!
For the second 60 minutes I would take whatever God had shown me in his word and through prayer to one or several trusted national brothers, including those I was discipling, and I would share this with them. It was rough at first. But their appreciation of my effort was amazing. And they got it! They got to see me living out the gospel in my life as I shared it with them - yes, ever so simply! - in their language. This was such an encouraging time for me to hone my language and culture acquisition, but even more, it was such a great time for me to disciple these guys as we learned from God's word and prayed together.
For the third 60 minutes, I would take what I had done in the first two hours, and spend that time sharing the gospel with my lost neighbors, often with these brothers. It's amazing how God took my faithful efforts in those first two hours of improving my gospel fluency, to lead me into so many fruitful gospel conversations with my lost neighbors! I don't think I would have ever gotten out the gate had it not been for putting Language 180 into practice!
So that's the story behind "Language 180" and why it has has become such an important learning and ministry practice for me as I pursue gospel fluency across cultures.