Because of expected ice storm on Sunday January 9, only 8:30 worship will take place onsite.

March 21, 2024

A Pastoral Word. . . Staying Fluent

Pastor Kevin Freeman

March 21, 2024
My family subscribes to a youth news program called World Watch. Recently on this program, Chloe Hendon reported on a language known as Jèrriais. This Norman French dialect has been preserved over a thousand years due to its isolation on the island of Jersey, where it is spoken. Now, however, about 500 mostly elderly Jèrriais speakers remain.

Around the turn of the 20th century, Jersey adopted English and French as the official languages, viewing Jèrriais as the commoner’s tongue, and schools stopped teaching it. From there, Jèrriais continued to steadily decline.

By 2001, Jersey sought to reverse the near-extinction of their language, offering free courses and even reintroducing it into primary schools. Jèrriais was also redesignated an official language of Jersey in 2019. Will these efforts be enough to keep Jèrriais from dying out? Time will tell. Atticus Mawby, a young adult speaker of Jèrriais, explained, “No culture is complete without its language…If Jèrriais does die, then Jersey will just become another part of Britain. It will be really sad.”

Mawby is correct, and his comments extend far beyond Jersey’s language and culture. Our own Christian faith and culture have been preserved by generations who poured themselves into the next generation, faithfully immersing their young people in the truths of our faith. Ironically, the people of Jersey were so immersed in their language that they did not realize the role it had played in keeping their cultural continuity. For a hundred years, fluent speakers watched as their children learned a new language, little realizing it might erase their own cultural heritage. We, too, find ourselves with a choice to either adopt the new cultural norms around us or hold fast to the faith heritage that prior generations have given us.

Do we want our young people to be fluent in our Christian faith? If so, we must immerse them in it. On a church ministry level, this means that programs involving our young people should be the last areas where we struggle to find volunteers. On a family level, it means that parents and grandparents – knowing that they model each day what their priorities are – seek to faithfully immerse their children in a lifestyle oriented toward godliness.

Speaking of passing along Scriptural truth, the Psalmist Asaph writes,

We will not hide them from their children, but will tell a future generation the praiseworthy acts of the LORD, his might, and the wondrous works he has performed.

He established a testimony in Jacob and set up a law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach to their children so that a future generation -- children yet to be born -- might know.

They were to rise and tell their children so that they might put their confidence in God and not forget God's works, but keep his commands.
(Psalm 78:4-7 CSB)

What “language” are you passing along to the next generation?

Your partner in ministry,
Kevin Freeman
Image attribution: Man vyi,
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