Is it just my imagination? … or are more and more missionaries assuming they will “train nationals because they understand better the language and culture?” Maybe it’s due to economic realities. Churches and foundations want to stretch every dollar so that it can be as efficient as possible. Or maybe it’s pragmatic: Recent shifts in strategy involve training nationals to multiply ministry anyway. So why bother with language acquisition, especially when national partners already speak English anyway?

How would we determine if these questions truly identify a system in flux? Has anyone done a careful study to analyze critically any possible shifts in cross-culturally workers and their desire to learn heart languages? … and have we mapped that desire over time? And if these values are changing (if we’re putting less emphasis on learning the heart language of the people we hope to reach), how might it affect our abilities to reach them? For example, in a recent study reported in the journal, “Science,” (March 17, 2015), researchers concluded, “By having another language, you have an alternative vision of the world.” (Learn more about this study at… )

If this study’s conclusions say what I THINK they are saying, the implication is — people who learn a second language have a different lense… a broader base through which they can analyze the second culture. So maybe those who DON’T, see a narrower vision of reality. Could this end up hindering the expansion of the Kingdom? … and could it hinder enough to matter?

What’s your view on learning a second language? How likely will you be to learn the language of the people you plan to reach? Have you encountered peers with less commitment to do so than you observed in previous epochs in missions history? Please click “comment” at the web version of this item. And thanks for your willingness to take part in this discussion.