Fresh Faced Dever

July 10, 2008

I link to the following video for two reasons:

1) It shows something of the challenge of speaking with a translator (Have any of you fellow preachers had to do this?)
2) I suspect a number of his many friends might be amused to witness this more ‘freshed faced’ version of Mark Dever!



  1. “Have any of you fellow preachers had to do this?”

    I have, and it can be maddening! Even with an excellent translator, it’s very hard to maintain any sense of continuity. And, of course, forget about any kind of subtle word-play!!

    As an aside, Mark’s idea of preaching through a book in one sermon is one I’m going to try! (Perhaps as the first sermon on a book series?)

  2. Yes, I worked with a translator once, before my French was good enough that I could preach in that language by myself. It’s hard to feel as free but with a good translator you can set up a kind of rhythm that works.

    Subtle word-play also goes out the window in your second language, until after quite a bit of learning has gone on.

    At the same time, though, all preaching is a translation of sorts — even when delivered in one’s mother tongue. It doesn’t hurt to remember that from time to time… 😉

  3. As a good friend of Mark’s, I’m certainly amused!!

  4. I can’t even imagine how difficult this would preaching would be. Dever looked a bit stiff throughout. Great job digging this video up from the distant past Colin. 🙂

  5. I used to translate from English to German as a kid, so I know how hard it can get – both for the one in his mother tongue and the one translating.

  6. I had to preach a series with translators, it was at first very difficult and I had to do the following to make it work.

    1. Use more detailed notes than usual. The ‘thinking-space’ gained while the translator speaks generated so many tangential thoughts in my mind that the structure of the sermon became muddled unless I compensated with a tighter outline.

    2. Practice with the translator prior to facing a congregation. After a practice translation session the preacher will get a feel for how much to say in each ‘bite’ for the translator to do. Translators vary in this and a change of translator can require adjustment, and a new practice session!

    3. Some translators like an outline of the preacher’s notes prior to the service – take 2 copies with you!

    4. Encourage the translator to ask you to make clear anything they are not sure about – it can save huge pauses in the sermon and increase fluidity. They can often give valuable insight into the appropriateness of your chosen illustrations for the people in question too!

    5. Make sure that the translator uses a Bible in their own language, translated by scholars – and is not paraphrasing your reading of the scriptures into their language at warp speed and without preparation! If possible give the translator a list of scripture quotes you intend to use, prior to the service, so that they can look them up and have them quickly to hand.

    6. If at all possible find a Christian translator who loves the word, who feels the subject and will long for the congregation to grasp it. It can be wonderful to spend time praying with your translator before the service, and then stand together to serve The Lord and His people.

    Oh, it was Ecclesiates into Mandarin by the way!

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