Years ago an author by the name of Gary Chapman wrote a book titled“The Five Love Languages”. The idea was that each person has a preferred way they experience and express love. The Five Love Languages are: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time and Physical Touch.
I was sitting in a local conference recently where I learned something about the people in the region I live. It appears that people in this area respond differently than other places. Itinerate ministers have said they can often sense the differences and sometimes this might lead to labeling an area as having hard soil or simply not being receptive.
As I began to think this through, I got a sense that the people’s response is not the problem, it’s that we may not be speaking the language they understand. We often get stuck on methods and styles. Consider ‘revival’ as a topic. We typically have a pre-set idea on how ‘revival’ presentation looks and sounds, and how people should respond to this presentation. I propose to you that maybe there’s a language of the culture in the area we live that the church isn’t speaking, it’s like trying to preach a message spoken in English to people who only understand Spanish. The problem is not so much that
Christians typically have a hard time contextualizing the Gospel. This means we struggle with the concept of changing the wording or the method of communicating the core message of Christ. Why? Well it’s really simple… there’s a misunderstanding of the difference between the message and the vehicle it rides on. This isn’t a new issue… Jesus riding on a donkey was a real stretch for some back in the day too. Jesus seemed to appeal to the heart or love language of the common people in a way that the religious leaders of the day were not.
We have been given the privilege to communicate in various languages and we’re learning how to use them. I admit that at times I struggle with communicating outside a church meeting… yet in reality it’s not too hard when I identify with whomever I am communicating with. There are various cultural ‘love languages’ that our coworkers, neighbours, sports team members, classmates or family members are communicating with one another. When we open up our ears, develop our skills and ask the Holy Spirit to lead us, we may start speaking a language that everyone can understand!