The Preacher and Translator

The lovely Robin and I had a marvelous time this past weekend participating in the JESUS IM FOKUS congress in Dillenburg, Germany. It is a biennial gathering of roughly five hundred youth and children's ministry workers from Brethren churches from all over Germany, Austria, etc. (I'm not sure where exactly Et Cetera is, but I hope to visit someday).

It was an honor and joy to speak four times over the weekend to the assemblage on "Healing for Hurting Hearts." But relatively inexperienced as I am speaking with the help of a translator (who has become a dear friend), it was a challenge.

Speaking with the aid of a translator required me to rethink my delivery. I had to shorten my sentences. I had to pause often in the middle of a thought. I had to restructure some portions, because in German the verb comes at the end of a sentence. And so on.

But, of course, every preacher is a translator. We must consider much more than grammar and sentence structure. We must discern where people are, and meet them there. We must find common ground with the people to whom we are called to speak. We must connect with them before we can connect them with God through his Word. We must make our speech accessible. We must make our speech attractive. We must make our speech effective at moving hearts and minds toward a worthy goal. We must work within the limitations of language to communicate a message that is limitless in its power. And so on.

Sounds hard, doesn't it? It is. Which makes it even more discernibly miraculous when some gifted souls among us make it look easy.

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