Gospel Fluency

In my limited exposure to Jeff Vanderstelt and the concept of “gospel fluency” through a 6-part video series on YouTube (on 1.75x speed as I wasn’t too interested in the delivery), two points stood out: preaching the gospel requires practice; and, the way we pray may be indicative of our relationship with God.

Even if they want to, many Christians find it hard to talk to others about Jesus. Is it possible this difficulty is because we’re trying to speak a language we haven’t actually spent time practicing?

Jeff Vanderstelt

Preaching the gospel requires practice, and even Christians need to be reminded of the truth of the gospel, because we forget. Application: I can start by iterating the gospel even to Christians that I know.

I suppose if we don’t ever practice a language, it’s easy to forget nuances and make syntactic errors. And while it’s easier to understand and read a language, it’s much harder to be orally fluent unless we speak it. Recent events really drove home this point.

When our oldest was about our son’s age now, I recall having a conversation with her on the couch about what it meant to have a relationship with Jesus, what sin was and how that ultimately separates us from having a relationship with God, and what Jesus did on the cross for her, for us. It seemed very natural, so it must have segued into that. At the end of it, I asked her about whether she desired to have Jesus in her life, and after we prayed together, that was the start of the journey.

Now let’s fast forward a few years. A few months ago, we had a similar conversation with my son, and by the end of it, I asked him if he wanted to have God direct his life or be with God, and he said nope. This happened a few times, and his answer was unchanged, so I let it be and continued to pray for my kids. To be honest, the eldest have had come to me in tears because her brother had made multiple “you’re not a Christian anymore” accusations toward her, and well, it usually resulted in the pep-talk about how people’s words about you doesn’t always speak truth.

Just the other day, as I was getting ready to take a shower, he walks in, and out of the blue says in all seriousness (because this guy is more silly and playful than serious), “我想做一個 Christian'” (“I want to be a Christian.”) Wait, what?! Anyway, coming back to the point about practice preaching the gospel. I realized that if you haven’t preached the good news in English, it’s even more difficult to explain concepts to a young child in a way that they will understand in Chinese. It’s no wonder that missionaries need to go through years of language fluency training before they can begin to translate the Bible in a way that their people that they’re trying to reach can understand. I paused by putting down my underwear (remember? I’m getting ready for a shower) and asked him, “Do you know what a Christian is?” and explained it to him, and yes, he wanted to ask Jesus to be in his life; he recognized he did wrong (that we all do) and that separated us from God and Jesus bridged that gap by dying on the cross and conquering death through His resurrection. His response this time around was so different than in the past. I still have no idea what changed, and this is just a start in the years ahead, but it’s encouraging!

How we talk to God when we pray may be reflective of our relationship with Him. In the example that Vanderstelt used, if we don’t ever address God as “Father”, is that because we don’t see Him in a father role? Well, guilty as charged; my prayers when voiced out loud almost always starts with “Dear God,” as if I’m writing a letter! Though thinking back to my written prayer journals, I have addressed God with other names, but these days it’s just “Dear God”.

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