Language Barriers

Last week I started thinking seriously about getting a Nintendo Wii. I’ve played one a couple of times at a lock-in, but didn’t really know much about them until last week.

Last Wednesday I set out to do a little research and went to a local video game store – a place in which I’d never set foot. I entered and said something to the effect of, “I’d like to talk to someone a little bit about the Nintendo Wii. Do you have any in stock?” To which I was greeted with laughter. Now, if you know anything about the Wii you understand that the laughter was because no one has any in stock and they’re hard to get unless you’re willing to pay big bucks on Ebay or stand in line for a long time. I didn’t know these things though, so all I knew was that I was being laughed at – jerks.

I explained that I had never owned a video game system, that I didn’t have much experience with video games, but that I was interested in maybe learning more about and even potentially owning a Wii. The salesman launched into a detailed a technical explanation of the Wii, of how it compares to other systems, of its good traits as well as its bad ones. He was using language so complex and so foreign to me that all I could do was smile and nod. He was clearly speaking with passion about the Wii, but he didn’t really help me understand it any better because he wasn’t willing to use language that met me where I was.

I wonder how often people feel like this when they enter a church. They’re in new territory, they don’t know much about what’s going on but are genuinely interested in learning more, and then they are spoken to in a way that makes them feel insecure about the things they don’t know, but feel like they should.

I may or may not give someone else a chance to help me know more about the Wii in the coming weeks or months, but I do know one thing for sure. I know that I’m going to be much more intentional about trying to find ways to use language that connects with people where they are when they visit Ridge Church.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Language Barriers

  1. barbmom

    In the education field that is called the learners level of understanding. And, it is essential you always start below that which they do not know…in other words at their comfort level. You are right..too often the church makes assumptions and I will assure you many boomers who left the church and are only reluctantly and on occassion returning have little or no “church background.” Much of what we boomers do carry with us is misinformation…well, you get where I am going. So, teach while you preach…and use blogs…and educational mission opportunities…and be a prophetic voice.

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