Friday, April 30, 2010

Speaking Each Other’s Language

My wife and I were sitting in the Washington D.C. airport yesterday waiting to board a plane to New Mexico. While we were waiting we witnessed the most interesting exchange of conversation between a German man and a Hispanic woman. Though both spoke English, it was clear that English was not their heart language. Both had strong accents and struggled with certain English words. But as they conversed with each other, they were able to communicate effectively. Communicating with each other took a lot of work. Communicating with each other took a lot of patience. Communicating with each other required them to sometimes repeat a word or phrase or find an alternate word or phrase in order to make their point in the conversation. But in the end, they were successful at exchanging the information they needed and both continued on with the business they were engaged in.

As I watched the exchange, I could not help but think of how similar that conversation was to the ones I often have with young adults. Young adults often use words and phrases that my generation does not understand. Sometimes young adults use the same words that older adults use, but with completely different meanings. Not only do young adults use different words than older people, but they process information and think differently as well. At times it can be frustrating communicating with them.

While it may be tempting to just ignore young adults and stick with talking to people of my own generation that is not really an option. Young adults need to engage in discussions with older adults about life so they can glean wisdom from them. Most importantly, those of us who are more mature must be willing to share our faith in Christ with the next generation. Statistics tell us that only 4% of young adults have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This has both practical and eternal aspects. Practically it means they are missing out on peace, hope, joy and purpose that religious faith provides. Spiritually it means that they will spend eternity separated from God if they do not discover how to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Adults who have already discovered that relationship have an obligation to communicate it to the next generation.

Like the two people I saw talking in the airport, effectively communicating the wisdom of life and the secret to eternal life with the next generation will take work. It will take patience. It will take repeating ourselves or finding new ways to express the truth that burns within our hearts. But the next generation needs to hear about Jesus, so we must make the effort to communicate effectively with them no matter how hard it may be.


  1. Now that we have adult children, it is comforting to know that all the conversations and teachings that we had with them as children and teenagers didn't really fall on deaf ears. When they talk about their walk and faith with Christ it makes all the frustration totally worth it.