To Translate or Not to Translate…

Nov 17, 2016 | Churches, Vision

Interacting with many churches, I’ve learned that many leaders wonder about whether or not they should invest in translation. It can seem like an overwhelming complication with unclear benefits. I want to suggest an exercise that might help you think about this question for your context.


Imagine one day a foreigner showed up at your church. He can’t speak a word of English and stumbled through the door puzzled. He’s wearing a rough shawl and plain clothes and motions with hands that he needs some sort of help. You wish you could talk with him, but after a few moments of awkward attempts, he turns around and leaves. Your service goes on, but your heart is unsettled. It shouldn’t be this way.

Now imagine that the person who came to your door was Jesus.

What kind of experience do you wish you could have given him? How would you want to welcome him? What would you say or do? How would he feel? What would he think?

Take a moment to imagine.

What if the moment Jesus showed up speaking Aramaic, a computer recognized what he said and showed you a translation in English. What if you could hand him a tablet and he could be ushered to a place where he would get translations of everything being said from the stage in his language? And what if he could sing along in his language? Imagine if he could be invited to come forward and speak to the entire congregation in Aramaic as English subtitles appeared up on the big screen for everyone to follow along? What if your church created this foretaste of God’s Kingdom every gathering?

As you can tell, I believe translation isn’t optional, it’s essential. The only reason why most people and organizations don’t do it is because it feels overwhelmingly complicated. But what if in our pursuit of loving and welcoming the stranger, we created a solution that made it so simple this barrier was no longer an issue? Would that change your mind on whether or not to translate?

We think we’ve built such a solution in And we’d like to invite you to try it out and see how fantastic it would be to welcome someone like Jesus, a foreigner, a stranger, showing up at your door next Sunday.

Ready to try it out?

Contact us to start reaching your multilingual audience better than ever before.

One Misconception About Translation in Churches

Transformation is hard work. And sometimes it’s the simple misconceptions that get in the way.For example, why do you think translation is important?You might say that we can’t understand and include people who speak other languages without it. Or that without it, we...

read more

Multilingual Song: We Are the Body of Christ

This multilingual song is available under an open license. This means you can freely use this song for worship in church. If you want to contribute a singable translation under an open license, feel free to do so and send it to us so we can share it. We currently have...

read more

How do I deal with culture clash?

Although the apostles and elders protected the gospel from being collapsed into a false one of cultural conformance, they still faced a very practical issue.

After generations of strict Jewish separation from Gentiles, how could these new “Christ communities” worship together?

Could God’s diverse people live as one when some subgroups found the practices of others offensive? Could outsiders accept the people who formerly looked down on them?

read more
Share This