Language – 1

Words

Languages are pretty confusing.  There are rules, but plenty of exceptions.  Some words’ meanings depend on the tone they are said.  Others have multiple meanings.  Each one is not very precise and often has alternatives.  This often leads to misunderstandings, confusion and sometimes even wars.  They can lead to ‘verbal garbage’ or bureaucratic ‘diarrhoea’!  And then there is the problem of the changing of their meanings often during one’s lifetime.  Of course, with the ever increasing introduction of new ways of doing things or new objects, there are the constant flow of new words.  And, finally, there is slang!  Also, even in the same language a word can be spelt differently or have another meaning in another country.

We need a new way of expressing ourselves which is more precise, has fewer rules but for which there are no exceptions and words are spelt as they sound.  But, how do we go about this.  We probably need a ‘task force’ (another meaningless term) to be composed of all sorts of people to decide the following:

  • Precise meanings of words and to get rid of alternatives;
  • Find ways of using less punctuation;
  • Make sure all words are six letters or less to make it easier to say and remember;
  • Get rid of some of the silly letters of the alphabet like ‘x’ and add new ones that can be pronounced properly
  • Words to have ‘silent’ letters removed;
  • Be precise as to what are ‘proper’ nouns;
  • ‘Proper’ nouns are not included in dictionaries as there are too many of them;
  • The same with ‘slang’;
  • What rules there should be and make sure there are no exceptions;
  • Anything else I have missed out;
  • Once complete, it is to be made ‘official’ and the only words to be in dictionaries and taught in schools;
  • All qualifications to be only awarded if students have passed literacy and numeracy to a high standard.

I am sure that this will help improve understanding, the use of language and also hopefully, cause the media to be objective and the world of entertainment become creative in a good way in their use of words. It might even get rid of swearing and monotonous songs! With less words available, we might even use more of them. For the average person they only use about between 6,000 and 12,000 words. The Second Edition of the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary contains full entries for 171,476 words in current use! So, there is scope for reduction in number of words available and an increase in the ones used. Schools need to increase the numbers of words and their meanings each year from primary to the end of secondary. I might even suggest that students do not progress into secondary school until they can read and write properly as well as having basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division skills.

Any thoughts?

 

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Church – 2

Evangelicalism is in crisis.

It is encouraging to see that many evangelical churches are involved in a huge range of community and worldwide activities to alleviate social and moral problems.  Then there is the increasing number of church plants of differing types.  Corporate prayer has increased in many areas.  All good things.

But are we really making an impact on society?  The answer is no.

I think the reasons are as follows:

  • Our understanding of the Gospel.

We have limited our theology of the Gospel to a narrow focus on salvation, when in fact it is the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.  This means that God wants to ‘save’, not just our souls, but every part of our lives, and not only our personal, private areas, but also our connections with work, leisure and the world.  We also make it too easy to become a Christian, because we do not explain the consequences of becoming a follower of Jesus – He wants us to accept Him , not only as our Saviour, but also our Lord, and that means commitment, even during the lows of life!  For God is a God of love and justice for He is holy.

  • Our understanding of vocation and ministry

We seem to have separated our lives into that which happens in church from outside it.  When we become a Christian, we are called to re-focus every part of our lives to that of God’s will.  That takes time, but we need to re-align our work (including the home) and our time so as to focus on transformation of society and doing that as part of a small group community of fellow believers in which we are discipled to become Christ-like in all areas of life.  I call this vocation ministry.  Our lives are about relationships, with God, our fellow believers and those outside the Kingdom.  Therefore we need to balance our time with all three, not forgetting our family.

  • Our understanding of the world

Most Christians do not have a biblical worldview on the issues of the day, so often they are simply following what the world says and have no concern about redeeming it for God.  Part of that problem is not only that we are not taught it from the Bible, but also we seem to have problems in translating the original scriptures, interpreting them properly and knowing how to apply those truths from the Scriptures in the most appropriate biblical loving way.  Hence work is needed to re-visit the originals that we do have and make sure we have understood the true meanings of words, especially as they change from culture to culture and from one period of history to another.  With regard to interpretation, theologians with different viewpoints then need to come together to find more common ground so as to stop confusing the ‘ordinary’ Christian!  When it comes to applying the truths from the Bible, we all need help to not only take action but how to articulate it when explaining these truths to non-Christians.  Hence the importance of discipling, ideally in small groups, with one on one training for small group facilitators by the leadership.  And I mean training, not just teaching!

  • Our understanding of the uniqueness of Jesus

Another area as Christians we are weak in is in the area of Apologetics.  We are told by Paul to be able to give a reason for the hope we have, and that, in particular, means being able to articulate the uniqueness of Jesus, and to understand the differences between Christianity and other belief systems.  Part of the solution is knowing how to read, study, meditate and apply the Bible.  Hence the importance of spending time in the Word not only on one’s own but also being taught how to do it as part of the discipling process within a small group.

To achieve a resolution of the above issues means three things:

  1. A re-evaluation of our theological training for leaders – seeing it as a discipling process within small groups as the main vessel, with specialist lectures only part of it. The key is to train leaders to become reproducible disciplers in their churches;
  2. And secondly, to make corporate prayer a key to seeing transformation within the church and in the world around it. God, throughout the Scriptures, very rarely talked about personal prayer, but called us together to seek God and His face;
  3. And finally, to always seek to see the church grow healthily and numerically, and that often means planting communities relevant to the many different people groups around the world. Jesus will only come when this happens. The sooner, the better, I say! And these communities are to also seek to transform society, and creation. This should be part of every believer’s DNA, embedded during the intentional discipling process.

Other concerns that often blunt our effectiveness include:

  1. The proliferation of Christian charities, often doing the same thing, and thus a lot of resources are wasted and not strategically used.   This does not help with encouraging individual Christians and churches to give sacrificially, especially when one knows that a very small percentage of giving goes to planting churches among unreached people groups, most of whom are in the 10/40 window.
  2. There are too many publications, often saying the same thing. Maybe authors should get together to write collaboratively. This would lead to fewer books, but better writing and more impact.       People also need encouragement to read, so new ways of producing books need to be found, in terms of layout and cost. This would mean that Christian bookshops may need to re-invent themselves as resource centres which include things like healing rooms etc.

Even though there is a crisis, I believe it can be overcome.  Part of it is for everyone to realise we are in a battle of spiritual warfare.  The other part is for groups like the Evangelical Alliance and Affinity to take the lead and encourage their member churches to address the above issues and to provide appropriate resources and guidance in achieving them, and persuade theological colleges and courses to do the same.  (Maybe some colleges are struggling because they are not really addressing the discipling process and helping leaders to get their churches to seek to transform the world?)

I can be contacted at framework@cgfletcher.plus.com