I was completely fascinated by a report released last week by Business Insider Magazine. The report illustrated twenty-two examples of ways Americans speak the English language. Perhaps what fascinated me most was how folks in the south speak the English language so much differently than everyone else (although the North East have their own linguistic traits too).
Maybe you’re hungry for a piece of “pecan” pie. How would you say it? (Personally I’ve always thought you pee in a can, not in a kahn.)
Perhaps you’re thirsty for an ice cold ________. (soda, pop, coke, sodee, or soft drink?)
If you’re attempting to capture the attention of someone across the room, would you shout: “Hey you guys”…”Hey you”…”Hey y’all”…”Hey you all”?
This report reveals that Americans speak various forms of English and it depends upon your geographical region which form you believe is correct.
Ten years ago, I moved to the midwest; however, I was born and raised in the south. So to call a bottle of pepsi a “soda” or a “pop” is still crazy to me. Where I’m from, it doesn’t matter what’s written on the label; it’s still a coke. “Crayon” will always two syllables in it (and so does mayonnaise).
I’ve discovered over the last ten years that people up here think I talk funny. I’ve had a few instances where the way I talk has created a mini-language barrier that demanded further explanation.
The Christian Language Barrier
In light of this interesting study, I couldn’t help but think about my faith and the Church. How often do we as disciples of Jesus speak with folks outside the Church using language that only Churched people understand?
I’ve literally heard Christians talk about the “blood of Jesus” in a conversation with non-believers. If you were not acquainted with the Bible, you might ask, “Are you a vampire?” I’ve listened to Christians share the gospel of Jesus with unsaved people and every other word was grace, repentance, mercy, forgiveness, or sins. These are not words people outside the Church are accustomed to hearing.
While I’m certainly not advocating removing the Bible from your conversation about Jesus, I am challenging you to consider who you’re talking to and meet them right where they are as you share the Gospel with them. If they’ve never opened a Bible or stepped foot in a Church, try to lay off your Christianese language and use words they would understand.
Ways to Share Jesus (minus the barriers)
Here are a few suggestions to share the Gospel on common ground with non-believers:
1. Pray a short prayer as you enter a conversation. Ask God to give you the confidence to share what this person needs to hear. Keep that prayer going mentally as you continue the conversation.
2. Tell your story. No one can deny the life-change you have experienced in Christ. Your life is an incredible testimony to the power of God. And it’s your greatest tool in sharing the Gospel – you’re living proof! Keep your story brief and to the point. And focus more on Jesus than you do on your sinful past.
3. Don’t argue. You will never convince someone to follow Jesus if they’re angry with you after a heated debate. Don’t be offended if they disagree with you. If they verbally attack, keep in mind they’re God, not you. He can handle the pressure.
4. Gospel = Good News. So tell the good news. Don’t talk about religion. We’re not called to tell people how sinful they are and what they must do to be acceptable before God. Jesus met people where they are – no matter how sinful. Then He died for their sin. The Gospel is about what Jesus has DONE…not what we must DO. Talk about the relationship with God, not the religion of man.
People will understand the Gospel when you’re speaking the same language. So share Jesus in a way that is simple to understand and as relatable as you possible. Maybe you could begin by sharing a piece of “pecan” pie?