In the last SEND Hope & Light enewsletter, we introduced the first of eight “fruitful practices” observed in most successful church plants. We should mention that the researchers who first introduced these practices noted that they are not exact “cookie-cutter” methods to be followed like a recipe. Nor are they scientific formulas that come with the assurance that if you “do this,” you will “get that.”
Every ministry context is different. However, from the observation and study of multiple mission agencies involved in successful church planting, these common threads of “fruitful practices” seem to be present in some capacity across the board. Though these practices have proven to be effective in many contexts, we humbly recognize that God is the only One who can truly bring about fruit. We are blessed by God to cultivate and encourage growth in others, but only He can bring real transformation and growth.
A worker once said, “Nothing says, ‘I love you,’ more than learning and speaking a person’s native language.” The task of learning a foreign language can be greatly challenging, and cross-cultural workers find many reasons to stop short of the finish line, in terms of complete fluency.
Though it can be tempting to quit, language fluency is a very important practice that we, as cross-cultural workers for Jesus, must encourage and support wholeheartedly. We must advise fellow workers to persevere with language studies until they can pray and tell stories in the language in which the local people laugh and cry. We must encourage them to study until they feel they cannot stuff another word into their brains, go take a short mental break, and then come back and study some more.