Mar 14, 2013

Church - language = frustration

Attending church in Cameroon is a challenge and only recently have I begun to understand why. Sure, the pews are uncomfortable, the music is loud, no service for our kids, etc. But these superficial cultural differences fade as we adapt within our host culture.

So if these differences are fading, then why are we (Rodney more than Joy), still frustrated most Sundays?

Language! I don't know the language...yet! 

Many times I have stood in church pulpits and shared about 'those' who don't worship because they don't have a Bible in a language they can understand! I am a bit embarrassed in how long it took me to figure out that this is what I am experiencing.

Since I don't know French well enough to participate at church, my Sunday morning resembles a language lesson more than worship. Armed with a notepad, a Pentel P205 mechanical pencil (love these), a French dictionary and my French/English Bible, I write down every word I recognize. Repeated words get written phonetically, then checked for spelling and meaning. 

The upside? I better understand what people go through not having a Bible in their mother tongue, who are struggling to worship corporately in a language they don't understand. Also, I am more motivated to keep-on keeping-on on behalf of the Bibleless. Church for them is probably little more than a language lesson. And that is unacceptable.

Church must be more than mere language learning, it is for worship of Christ. John Piper said it well, "Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship does not."

1 comment:

  1. Our international students, who typically have decent conversational English, usually don't come with us to church more than once. Because it is boring to them to sit for so long not understanding what they are hearing or singing. And some phrases, such as "The Blood of the Lamb" are just plain confusing. I hope you are able to get fed in another way, and that your kids don't dread church.