by Beth Seversen,
October 5, 2015
Raising three girls in a ministry family has its challenges especially when we frequently have guests around our table or connect with people unfamiliar to us. One way we help our children engage with guests and strangers is to think of three open-ended questions to ask. We then pose follow-up questions taking cues from where the conversation leads. We’ve learned if we don’t listen well we aren’t able to ask further questions and the conversation breaks down.
Listening is a way we can continue to bless unchurched people. It’s a simple missional practice yet integral to the process of making disciples.
Listening is implicit to relationship building. I imagine we’ve all been on the end of a conversation where we felt like someone did not listen well to us. It’s difficult to be motivated to engage with people who don’t listen well.
Listening is the first step in laying a foundation of trust. Being heard validates our identity and experience. Listening well communicates value—that we value the person speaking to us.
Listening builds influence. It’s pretty hard to speak truth into someone else’s life if we have not first heard what’s on their heart and understood what’s significant to them.
We can ask God’s help to become better listeners. We may want to confess where we’ve failed to listen. Then we can start with the missional practice of listening by asking provoking questions of unchurched friends and family. Ask God’s help in framing questions that get to what’s important to them—to their heart issues—and to their spiritual journey. Listen actively and prayerfully by asking follow-up questions to deepen relationships. Not sure how to start? I often simply begin by asking, “Tell me about you?” Or, “Tell me your story. I’d love to hear it!”
What we learn from friends, family and others in our conversations can guide our prayers and our care for those who have not yet committed to faith in Jesus.
May God cause our relationships with unchurched people to flourish as we initiate the missional practice of listening well.