The decisions we make as a church, as followers of Jesus, over the next few years will determine what will be said about us in the future. This series of blog posts is about how the decisions we make today move us into a preferred direction tomorrow. Four actions we need to take: start, stop, stay, and go. In the next few weeks we will discuss what we each need to do individually and what we need to do as a church community to ensure that the narrative that is told about us in the future is faithful to the gospel.
Being the church that engages with the broken requires that we listen to their cries. If we are going to be agents of change in God’s world, we must take the posture of listening. We need to start listening.
Ezekiel 11:19 says, “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.” I believe God is in the heart-transplant business. I believe God can take the hardest heart and soften it with his love. I believe no one is outside of the possibility for a new heart. This means I believe no one has to be trapped in their stories. It is possible to find new stories for shaping meaning in our lives. The task of the church is helping people re-shape their lives in light of God’s story. It starts with us learning to listen.
It will be through the quality of our listening and not necessarily the wisdom of our words that will affect change in the world around us. In times such as ours the question put before the church is “Have I listened to people in Christ as much as I have spoken to people about Christ?” When we listen we offer a safe place for people to share that which has been denied, unloved, and devalued.
Are you a person that people feel safe telling their stories? Are you the person James speaks of when he says, “Let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness” (James 1:19-20)? Imagine the influence of the church one hundred years from now if people were saying, “The church is known as a place where my story is told and my brokenness was heard.” Imagine if Christians were known more for our listening ears rather than our opinionated mouths.