How well do we listen?

How well do we listen?

By and large Christians like to speak. They have got something of eternal significance to say after all. Many of us are poor listeners. Many Christians don’t have many non Christian friends (or any come to that). They think they do. But they don’t. If you have been a believer for any length of time, count the number of genuine non Christian friends you have. Not acquaintances or people you knew from back in the day that you see twice a year, but non Christian people regularly and consistently involved in your life. Now there are a number of reasons for this but I think one of them is becuase we are not any good at listening.

We want to reach people for Jesus and yet I wonder how many of us actually ‘know’ anything about the people we are trying to reach? What do they like to do? what are they interested in? what are their fears and dreams and hopes and ambitions? If we want to build authentic relationships with people then surely we must develop an genuine interest in them along the way, not just strategically in the hope that an ‘opportunity’ will come along. So how can we be better listener’s?

1. Go out with people. Christians are obsessed with inviting people to events. But why not just go out and hang out with a non believer and go where they want to go (within reason – obviously Hooters is a non starter!).

2. Instead of telling people the answers to questions they are not asking and informing them of what they actually ‘need’, listen to what their real concerns are. So much of our evangelism is tied into the ‘straw man’ approach. We start with an ‘issue’ that concerns us and then proceed to blow it out of the water with the Bible. The problem with believers is that they are starting with different issues. Unbelievers don’t normally care about the slide in morality of society, but they may care about why there are 500 types of churches in the town and what Jesus thinks about that (as was put to me recently).

Two little suggestions. There are many more. Try it.