Does This Language Make Me Look Fat

Since S. is going to be giving up his major at school, he’s moving into the extra room at the church building. We got it mostly set up for him on Monday – we’ve got students coming this summer to work with us, and we’ll need to add a few more beds at that time. But it let us get an idea of how much it will all cost (not much). With S. around full time now, I’m hoping he’ll be able to use this time to deepen his Bible education and take on more church-related jobs. S. is really a tremendous blessing to me – has a great attitude and a real desire to learn and grow.  

I’ve got a problem in my preaching that I’m trying to work hard on fixing this week. I often preach using almost entirely Chinese. But I’m kind of ridiculous, because every once in a while, I’ll get pridefully self-conscous and then I’ll bomb. There’s sometimes that I’m sure if I speak Chinese, they’ll laugh at me. Which hasn’t happened yet, but that’s what your imagination can do. There’s triggers for it, of course. An English teacher visited with T. last sunday. He’s a Chinese guy, but he teaches English at the university. I don’t know why, but I was terrified to speak Chinese in front of him! So I was down to around 50-50! This also happens if someone comes that I haven’t seen in a long time, like since I couldn’t talk at all. Conversationally I’m okay, but standing in front of them, I get scared and slide into English (because I’m pretty sure no one’s going to make fun of that). 

What I’ve got to realize is this: I can’t have it both ways. We can’t promote like we’re a Chinese church and speak a bunch of English when I’m preaching. Students are starting to bring their English-clueless friends more and more. But if they come for the first time on a night like this last Sunday night, they’re not exactly in the best environment. The fact is, I just feel like I can retreat into English without doing damage – I really can’t anymore. I thought the Lord blessed and used the message on Sunday, but I think He could have done more without my pride getting in the way. 

So what to do about it? I need more Chinese-specific preparation. Right now when I prepare messages, my notes are in English, but I’ve read the passage in the Chinese Bible ten times or so. I also go through the whole thing and find the words I don’t know how to say. And often, this approach is enough and I’m able to preach almost completely in Chinese. But if I get shaken, I have a hard time putting it all together. So this week, I’m going to write out large parts of my message in Chinese so that I’ve been over every line in Chinese and don’t need to formulate every sentence in my head at the pulpit. I’ve never preached from manuscript before, but I’m going to try this week preaching from memorized manuscript (does that count as preaching from manuscript?). I also need to get humbler and realize that I’m not here for anyone to think I speak good Chinese, and I’m not above anybody laughing at me.

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