Worlds Are Created From Words

From the late 1950s through the 2000s, enrollment in foreign language programs at the university level grew steadily. After 2009, language class enrollments began to drop.

Leigh Jones, from WORLD Radio, interviewed several professors to find out why college students are less interested in learning a foreign language. Julianne Bryant, who teaches Spanish at Biola University, attributes the decline, in part, to the recession in 2008, which led students to pursue degrees that might lead to better pay. Students perceive language-learning to be too hard, and they often don’t see the payoff in acquiring that skill until they are out in the work world.

The bigger concern of Bryant and other professors is not economic, but cultural. English is the lingua franca today, even though most of the world doesn’t speak it (only one in five, actually). Students have adopted the widespread cultural assumption that English is the only language that really matters. If you’re privileged with English as your native tongue, why put in the time or effort to learn a different language?

The answer has more to do with personal formation than merely the ability to communicate. Donna Summerlin, head of the department of language and literature at Lee University, sees language learning at the heart of a liberal arts education. “We live in a global society and people to be truly educated need to know something about the world beyond their little corner of it.”

True. That’s why it’s ironic to see the number of people who speak other languages increasing in the United States at the same time so many language programs are closing. Jones’s report showed that, due to the need for bilingual people, some professionals find better compensation as translators than teachers.

Languages as Worlds 

Not long ago, I picked up the new book from Gaston Dorren (a famous polyglot who speaks six languages and can read nine more). Babel: Around the World in Twenty Languages opens with a quote from Alok Rai:

“Language is such an intimate possession, something that one possesses in the same measure that one is possessed by it. Language is bound up with foundations of one’s being, with memories and emotions, with the subtle structures of the worlds in which one lives.”

Language is tightly connected to how we perceive reality. We inhabit a world of language. For example, in Romanian there are two major words for tree: pom and copac. One refers to fruit-bearing trees, and the other to any tree. There is overlap with these synonyms (and many times they are used interchangeably), but in order to use them with dictionary precision, one must become an expert on identifying types of trees. Another example would be the more than a dozen words for snow in Central Alaskan Yupik.

When seen in this light, language learning becomes more than just doing diagrams, memorizing vocabulary, or figuring out the right verb tenses. The more fluent you are in another language, the more you realize that some words are virtually impossible to translate accurately. You come across concepts and shades of meaning that find no one-to-one correspondence. You have to live within the world of the language before you can fully grasp the meaning of a word or phrase.

This is why Bible scholars make the claim that “all translation is treachery.” It’s not that we can’t translate well, but that we can’t translate all. Words do not always capture all the particular shades of meaning when going from one tongue to another.

Benefits of Being Bilingual

What’s more, languages provide different structures of thought. Speaking another language is learning how to navigate a different world, with its own expressions, colloquialisms, and linguistic logic. For this reason, the benefits of being fluent in two or more languages go far beyond the “ability to communicate.” Over time, you find you can switch mental tracks in your mind. You think differently when you can enter into another linguistic world and view things from a different mental superstructure.

A few years ago, I wrote about the “brainy benefits of being bilingual,” and I included an excerpt from Time magazine that explained a few of the cognitive benefits of knowing another language:

Research is increasingly showing that the brains of people who know two or more languages are different from those who know just one—and those differences are all for the better. Multilingual people, studies show, are better at reasoning, at multitasking, at grasping and reconciling conflicting ideas. They work faster and expend less energy doing so, and as they age, they retain their cognitive faculties longer, delaying the onset of dementia and even full-blown Alzheimer’s disease. 

Learning another language stretches our minds and opens up new windows of imagination. It also gives us more words with which to praise our King. O, for a thousand tongues to sing our great Redeemer’s praise! (Might we at least try for two or three?)

Turnaround? 

Perhaps we will see a turnaround in language learning on university campuses. Surely we need more people who can see the world from various angles—something that fluency in another language makes possible.

Perhaps we will also see renewed enthusiasm among church leaders for learning the biblical languages. One of the best ways to bridge the gap between the cultures of the biblical authors and our present-day circumstances is by entering their linguistic world and engaging their inspired words on their own terrain.

We lose something precious when we lose the desire to speak another language. Let’s hope this trend reverses itself soon.

> Read more from Trevin.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Trevin Wax

Trevin Wax

My name is Trevin Wax. I am a follower of Jesus Christ. My wife is Corina, and we have two children: Timothy (7) and Julia (3). Currently, I serve the church by working at LifeWay Christian Resources as managing editor of The Gospel Project, a gospel-centered small group curriculum for all ages that focuses on the grand narrative of Scripture. I have been blogging regularly at Kingdom People since October 2006. I frequently contribute articles to other publications, such as Christianity Today. I also enjoy traveling and speaking at different churches and conferences. My first book, Holy Subversion: Allegiance to Christ in an Age of Rivals, was published by Crossway Books in January 2010. (Click here for excerpts and more information.) My second book, Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hope(Moody Publishers) was released in April 2011.

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— Bolstering your Leadership Armoury-Part 2- Leadership series – Toyer M–All things testing
 
comment_post_ID); ?> good article. Where I would take exception in the seeming negativity to plant a church more organically/biblically through missional communities due to the slowness of growth. I think that's the problem with church planting in the US today is that speed of numerical growth has taken priority over true and authentic spiritual growth
 
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comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
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You’re Not A Church Plant Anymore… Here’s Why

On the last this My Ministry Breakthrough Podcast, Northwoods Community Church Senior Pastor, Cal Rychener, and I talked about leading a church plant 30 years later. Off mic, he and I shared a laugh about at what point a church planter can, and maybe should, stop calling themselves a church planter. This, of course, led me to think: “When is it time to stop using a term like church planter?” After all, I made the mistake of once calling someone a “former Marine.” I was quickly informed that there exists no such thing. Once a Marine, always a Marine. So maybe it’s the same with church planters.

However, I do believe that there are some indicators that a shift in the language you use for your church might be required. Here are ten signs it’s time to stop calling yourself a church plant:

  1. You just launched the fourth campus.
  2. Your middle school girl’s associate pastor is asking for a cost of living raise.
  3. You are considering running two Christmas services in the local NBA arena this year instead of one.
  4. Your time speaking at conferences on church planting is really cutting into your time running a coaching network of young church planters.
  5. Your publisher is really turning the screws on getting this latest manuscript wrapped up.
  6. Your school principal wants part of the south parking lot repaved and striped before summer band practice.
  7. You find it harder and harder to raise enough financial support to replace the blades on your helicopter. (this is a real thing)
  8. You aren’t holding your breath anymore when you turn around after worship to start the sermon and see how many showed up.
  9. You are giving serious thought to upgrading your LED wall for Easter.
  10. You look forward to a good old-fashioned Saturday night snowstorm that shuts down the city without worrying about missing a week of offerings.

> Read more from Bryan.

 

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bryan Rose

As Lead Navigator for Auxano, Bryan Rose has a strong bias toward merging strategy and creativity within the vision of the local church and has had a diversity of experience in just about every ministry discipline over the last 12 years. With his experience as a multi-site strategist and campus pastor at a 3500 member multi-campus church in the Houston Metro area, Bryan has a passion to see “launch clarity” define the unique Great Commission call of developing church plants and campus, while at the same time serving established churches as they seek to clarify their individual ministry calling. Bryan has demonstrated achievement as a strategic thinker with a unique ability to infuse creativity into the visioning process while bringing a group of people to a deep sense of personal ownership and passion.

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RussellC — 01/30/19 12:31 pm

This is hilarious. Well done!

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comment_post_ID); ?> […] source: https://www.visionroom.com/leadership-and-the-power-of-listening/ […]
 
— Bolstering your Leadership Armoury-Part 2- Leadership series – Toyer M–All things testing
 
comment_post_ID); ?> good article. Where I would take exception in the seeming negativity to plant a church more organically/biblically through missional communities due to the slowness of growth. I think that's the problem with church planting in the US today is that speed of numerical growth has taken priority over true and authentic spiritual growth
 
— evansavage1
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
— Mike
 

Clarity Process

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Do the Words We Use Limit the Solutions We Create?

Uncaging vision involves meticulous articulation. 

Every single word, metaphor or story that drives your vision must be carefully created if you want to have a stunning impact.

As Deborah Mills-Scofield, writing in HBR.org recently said:

Language is paradoxical.  In some ways, it doesn’t keep pace with the rate of societal and technological change (e.g., TV show, carbon copy) and in others, new words are created almost daily in response to our fast-changing world (e.g., selfie, MOOC).  There is a balance between using the past to understand the present and guide the future, on the one hand, and on the other, creating something fresh that leaves the old behind.  We need analogies to understand the new (e.g., horseless carriage) yet they also hold us back by it constraining our thinking (e.g., horseless carriage).

So I have a challenge for you. Watch your language and the language of those around you.  See what words you are using and how you’re using them. Do they help you and your organization move forward? View the world differently? Open your mind to new possibilities? Or do they constrain how you view the world?

And when you change the words, does the world change as well?

Recently, I ran into a new church planter in my hometown Starbucks. He thanked me again for writing Church Unique and was enthusiastic to share the results of their arduous process of walking the Vision Pathway found in the book. I was stunned by the clarity and eloquence of his mission to “make true disciples by being true disciples.” The name of his church is “One Life Church” and their living language vision is spearheaded by the rallying cry
“Now, we really live.” I left that day greatly encouraged that another “everyday” pastor was pressing into and wrestling through the art of word choice. Another pastor was becoming a skillful visionary.

My favorite way of capturing the thrust that language matters is found in the phrase: “Words create worlds.”

So if the words we use as leaders do indeed create worlds for our followers, what, may I ask, are you saying?


Want to learn more about the importance of language in communicating your vision? Connect with an Auxano Navigator.

Read more from Will here.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Mancini

Will Mancini

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of VisionRoom.com and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

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— Bolstering your Leadership Armoury-Part 2- Leadership series – Toyer M–All things testing
 
comment_post_ID); ?> good article. Where I would take exception in the seeming negativity to plant a church more organically/biblically through missional communities due to the slowness of growth. I think that's the problem with church planting in the US today is that speed of numerical growth has taken priority over true and authentic spiritual growth
 
— evansavage1
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
— Mike
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Words Create Worlds – The Language We Use Shapes the Culture We Lead

In his book The Talent Code, Daniel Coyle tells the fascinating story of some experiments that Stanford psychologist and author Carol Dweck has conducted with fifth graders in multiple settings.

The fifth graders were put into two different groups and given the same tests. After completing the first test, the first group was told, “You must be smart at these problems,” and the second group was told, “You must have worked hard at these problems.”

The subtle and small difference made a big impact.

In preparation for the next test, the children were asked if they wanted to try an easier test or a more difficult one. As a group, those affirmed for their hard work wanted the more difficult task and the opportunity to learn. Those affirmed for their intelligence wanted the easy test. Likely they believed intelligence was the chief value, and they feared losing their good standing, their identification as the smart ones. In another round of tests, more difficult in nature, the children who were affirmed for their intelligence gave up much more quickly than those who were affirmed for their hard work.

The students returned to the original test, and the “you must be smart” group scored 20% lower than they did at first. The “you must have worked hard” group improved their scores by 30%.

The point, according to both Coyle and Dweck, is the language “you must have worked hard” fosters motivation and a growth mind-set, while the language “you must be smart” fosters the belief that intelligence is fixed. The small change in language makes a profound impact.

In organizations, in churches, and in families, language matters. Many have said that “words create worlds,” and I have found the phrase to be true. As leaders, the language we use helps shape the cultures we lead.

The words you use to articulate your mission, values, and strategy are essential. You can use language as a powerful tool to bring clarity and direction to the teams you lead and the people you serve. Or you can, as many do, underestimate the power of language and create confusion without careful attention to the words that describe the direction of your organization.

 Read more from Eric here.

Would you like to learn more about using language as a powerful tool to bring clarity to your church? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger is the Senior Pastor of Mariners Church in Irvine, California. Before moving to Southern California, Eric served as senior vice-president for LifeWay Christian. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. Eric has authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, taking his daughters to the beach, and playing basketball.

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comment_post_ID); ?> […] source: https://www.visionroom.com/leadership-and-the-power-of-listening/ […]
 
— Bolstering your Leadership Armoury-Part 2- Leadership series – Toyer M–All things testing
 
comment_post_ID); ?> good article. Where I would take exception in the seeming negativity to plant a church more organically/biblically through missional communities due to the slowness of growth. I think that's the problem with church planting in the US today is that speed of numerical growth has taken priority over true and authentic spiritual growth
 
— evansavage1
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
— Mike
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

10 Ways Buzzwords Are Undermining Your Leadership

On several occasions when teaching, I’ve noted the difference between buzzwords and leadership. In fact, I think that a key facet of leadership is knowing the difference between a strategy and a collection of buzzwords. In the corporate world, there are a multitude of buzzwords (and phrases) that need to fall out of existence. And, yes, I’m an offending party on several of these.

  • Learnings
  • Synergistic
  • Guru
  • Bandwidth
  • Thinking outside of the box
  • Let’s talk offline
  • Deep dive
  • Granular
  • Come-to-Jesus moment

The list could go on and on. For those who lead in the church, we have a completely other set of buzzwords. The sad thing is that many of the words have an important meaning. Nevertheless, they have become junk-drawer terms that are applied to everything and often come to mean nothing. A short list would be:

  • Postmodern
  • Missional
  • Relevant
  • Contemporary
  • Gifting
  • Resonate
  • Gospel

A few of these terms are important to me. They might be important to you. And, yes, I just put “Gospel” on the list. The reason is not that the biblical term has lost its meaning but that it has been so widely applied that others have lost a sense of its meaning. The three questions I have are simple: “When you use that term, what do you mean?” and “Do the people listening to you understand what you are saying?” and “Do they now understand enough to follow where you are leading?” It is a lesson that was driven home for me when I recently traveled to teach at the Kiev Theological Seminary. When leading, we must know these facts.

  • Just because you speak does not mean that they heard you.
  • Just because they nodded their heads in affirmation does not mean they understand.
  • Just because they said they understand does not mean that they agree.
  • Just because they agree does not mean that they will do it.

So, as I consider the power and the bane of buzzwords, I would offer these 10 thoughts.

  1. Buzzwords begin as a rallying cry and end as words too broadly applied. Leadership constantly looks for fresh ways to keep the movement alive.
  2. Buzzwords are a poor substitute for the real content. Leadership offers a vocabulary of meaningful dialogue.
  3. Buzzwords give a false sense of momentum when stagnation is the reality. Leadership identifies stagnation and tackles it.
  4. Buzzwords are an easy way to say nothing when those who follow you need to hear something. Leadership shows the willingness to have the difficult conversations.
  5. Buzzwords kill the meaning of a movement. Leadership continues to give life to a movement.
  6. Buzzwords are the escape hatch for the speaker who is unprepared. Leadership finds a way to be the most prepared person in the movement.
  7. Buzzwords provide a facade of being knowledgeable. Leadership actually learns.
  8. Buzzwords give false hope of a possible future. Leadership tells a beautiful and detailed story of what can be.
  9. Buzzwords are big ideas boiled down to the lowest common denominator of thought. Leadership offers everyone a way to access the big ideas and bring understanding to them.
  10. Buzzwords make important words eventually seem disposable. Leadership redeems the important meaning of words and phrases.

Read more from Philip here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Philip Nation

Philip Nation

serve as the Director of Advancement and Global Impact Churches with the Baptist World Alliance and frequently speak at churches and conferences. I earned a Master of Divinity from Beeson Divinity School and a Doctor of Ministry from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In 2010-2012, I was the national spokesperson for the Back to Church Sunday campaign from Outreach. Over the years, I’ve served as a pastor, minister of education, and a church planter. My latest published work is the video-based Bible study Pursuing Holiness: Applications from James. In 2016, I published Habits for Our Holiness: How the Spiritual Disciplines Grow Us Up, Draw Us Together, and Send Us Out with Moody Publishers. I’ve coauthored two other books: Compelled: Living the Mission of God and Transformational Discipleship: How People Really Grow. I was also the general editor of The Mission of God Study Bible. Along the way, I have written the small-group studies Storm Shelter: Psalms of God’s Embrace, Compelled by Love: The Journey to Missional Living and Live in the Word, plus contributed to The Great Commission Resurgence: Fulfilling God’s Mandate in Our Lifetime.

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Jan — 05/11/15 11:22 pm

When we carefully "unpack" this difficult passage... Now, "to unpack" that... I've heard that verb a lot lately. He "unpacked" that in a way that I could understand. After a lot of "UNPACKING," I came to the conclusion... that it's a buzzword!

Josh — 11/19/13 10:05 pm

It is pretty easy to fall into buzzwords - I have to admit I also hear words esp. Missional etc and wonder what they actually mean

Ed Underwood — 11/18/13 4:03 pm

Oh yes. When everyone's missional, no one is. When saying, "We live the Gospel" is enough, it's not enough. So, so, true. thanks. I'm retweeting this.

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> […] source: https://www.visionroom.com/leadership-and-the-power-of-listening/ […]
 
— Bolstering your Leadership Armoury-Part 2- Leadership series – Toyer M–All things testing
 
comment_post_ID); ?> good article. Where I would take exception in the seeming negativity to plant a church more organically/biblically through missional communities due to the slowness of growth. I think that's the problem with church planting in the US today is that speed of numerical growth has taken priority over true and authentic spiritual growth
 
— evansavage1
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
— Mike
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.