the challenge of translation

I’m sitting in the back of the room at a church conference. And yes, I am sitting on the floor.

Every year, people from the 60 churches in our “district” (IL, WI, and most of IN) get together at a church somewhere in that area and we talk about what happens in the district. At times it is as exciting as that sounds.

This year, however, we are trying something different. We spent the first afternoon looking back a little, and then looking forward to some new initiatives. I may write about those sometime. Then we are spending the day today learning about a thing we call “Keystone.” Named after a place in South Dakota, this is an initiative to actually do what Jesus said to do: to make disciples. I’ll write about that sometime, too.

Here’s what is intriguing.

The guy who is talking is talking about the explosion of data, of information. He is talking about how the new generations are creating information, living experiences, seeking authenticity. He is talking about the need to stop thinking about buildings when we think about church, but to think about relationship. He is talking about the importance of connecting with people, helping real people experience a real God.

And if you look at the picture, you see a bunch of people sitting at tables, with a guy in front talking, and slides on a screen. Oh. In a church building.

So I am rebelling. I am sitting on the floor. I have gmail, facebook, twitter, flickr, gchat, and, of course, wordpress open. I’m taking notes in google docs. I am processing this, not in a linear way, but in conversations with Nancy who is sitting next to me, and you.

What I know, of course, is that for the people who are sitting in this room–pastors, church delegates–being introduced to this information is most quickly done in this environment. What we gotta do, however, is get out of this room and start living as if a real God really had real conversations with real people. And really died so that there would be a real way for that conversation to continue. And really talks with people now.

I know. That sounds like preaching. But what it is for me is good news.

Oh wait. Maybe I am out of this room.


4 responses to “the challenge of translation

  1. The cool thing that I didnt get to tell you about Sunday is along these lines and it’s gotten even cooler since then. Remind me to tell you.

  2. Does the “translator” ever lose his/her own need to function in the context of his/her own heart language, even if they learn the heart language and context of someone else and can function fluently and comfortably there too?

  3. For me, Amy, I have to function out of my language, because that is where my experience is coming from.

    Wait. (original words left in to show that I am thinking.)

    What we’re talking about here is part of something we also call formation, spiritual formation.

    My goal as a translator, is not to help people become like me, but to become like Jesus, to be formed into His likeness, to be dressed in Him, to be….

    To have everything that is not like Him be chipped away, and everything that is like Him to be added.

    As a result, my context is always being shaped, formed, conformed anyway. So at some point, I’ll be not like me anymore anyway.

  4. It is a little scary that I had similar thoughts. The discussion of the day was about a new paradigm but we are still practicing the old. Some have been talking about this paradigm shift for 15 years. True paradigm shifts in the church happen less through teaching and more through a move of God because it is not a matter of information but of heart transformation.