Monday, November 28, 2011

Missionary Kid Monday: French Church

{For more on this series, click here}

I was at the same time a missionary kid and a pastor's kid. Mom and dad were B-U-S-Y on Sundays. Not that they weren't working during the rest of the week, but it was a different type of work. My dad usually preached on Sundays (spending many hours during the week ensuring that both his French and the message were great). Mom sometimes played the piano, but most often took care of Sunday school for the kids.

(When I talk about French church, I'm not referring to those BEAUTIFUL churches that France is famous for. No. Protestant French churches meet in regular old buildings, or a series of rooms on the ground floor of some office space, or even in people's homes.)

Sundays definitely changed for me in France. Suddenly, the whole family had to be at church at least one hour beforehand to set up, and we had to stay about an hour late after the service. I had to give the bise to a lot of old ladies who I would have much rather waved to. I learned to worship in another language.

We had church people over at our house throughout the week for various Bible studies. Once, our African Grey parrot (to whom my mother had taught to say both English and French words), shouted out "N'importe quoi" after an especially spirtual point my father had just made. Everybody laughed! You'll smile too when I tell you that "N'importe quoi" means "WHATEVER".

Here's the thing that still baffles me about French church, which is true to this day. Even though I speak it fluently, even though I can read and understand the Bible in French, even though I am a mature Christian...  a sermon preached in French is not as meaningful or impactful to me. It never has been, and this baffles me. I can read or hear the same spiritual words in French and English and it will only sink in when it's in English.

I have a theory that my heart doesn't speak French.

Even so, I am thankful that I had the opportunity for so many years to experience worship in a different culture, and to engage with Christians on the other side of the world!


  1. I would love to say that I can open my heart to The Word at the drop of a hat but it takes work & I think a another language would be just one more barrier to get my mind to quite down.

  2. I have an opposite theory in that it is my heart that speaks French but not my tongue!

  3. Loving this story unfold bit by bit. The church in the photo is gorgeous... I have a thing for beautiful old churches. I've been in many in England and throughout Italy...I think probably about a dozen too many for my husbands liking! lol!

  4. Silly bird...
    That's interesting about the language. I like your theory!