Have you ever been in a circumstance where no one spoke your language? Maybe you could speak or understand a few words, but you were largely in the dark. Communication levels were low. Frustration levels may have been high. And there was probably a significant degree of discomfort?
But then you met someone who spoke your mother tongue – your heart language. And, oh what joy, what relief, what connection! There was a new sense of freedom and opportunity. Bottom line: good things can happen when someone speaks your heart language!
In Scripture we see this clearly in Acts 2. As the Holy Spirit came in power and the church was born, the Bible says that people from “every nation” heard the apostles “telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God” (cf. Acts 2:5-13, ESV). As a result, about 3,000 people heard the gospel, repented, believed, and were baptized that day (Acts 2:41).
The importance of “heart language” to the spread of the gospel has been confirmed by those who study missions. David Garrison writes:
“Worship in the heart language allows the gospel to flow freely through a people group. There are Church Planting Movements that have erupted among people groups who do not yet have the Bible translated into their heart language, but even then their worship, songs and prayers are expressed in their heart language. . . . Missionaries who take the time to adapt the gospel to the heart language of the people are aligning themselves with the way that God is at work.” (Church Planting Movements, pp. 231-232)
So, at Ingleside we have deliberately chosen to worship in three “musical heart languages” each Sunday morning. They are:
Traditional: Piano and pipe-organ accompaniment, Congregational hymnody, Choral anthems
Blended: Band and orchestra accompaniment, Choir and vocal team, A variety of song choices and forms
Contemporary: Guitar-led, band-driven accompaniment, A lead vocalist or two, More contemporary song choices and forms
Of course, the biblical message is the same in each of these services.
I’m grateful to be part of a church that has learned to speak more than one “musical heart language” to make disciples and to bring glory to God!
Your Pastor and Friend,