It sounds counter-intuitive to many Christians, that listening is a key to mission. Isn’t mission about proclamation, about us speaking? Watch this superb video of Mike Frost on adopting a posture of listening:
He contrasts listening with prepackaged, prefabricated approaches to mission. Our culture likes to buy a package off the shelf to solve a problem, and the church is no exception when it comes to solving our problems of mission, of decline, of making worship more interesting …
Yet one of my churches is currently doing one of these very prefabricated mission packages, Alpha. However, we didn’t adopt it, because we were desperate to stimulate church growth. We ended up doing it as a result of listening. We had made a specific attempt to listen to our community at last summer’s village fair. We offered a lucky dip and asked adults who called at our stall to answer one question about what they thought the church should do in the community. We had about thirty responses, almost all of them positive. Our Leadership Team debated the replies, but didn’t come up with anything concrete.
Alpha came up a few months later. We had a moving and powerful memorial service for a much loved church member. It prompted spiritual questions. From some of those people came the request for Alpha, not us. It wasn’t on our agenda.
I love the way the Frost video ends with the appeal to listen to your community, because it is telling you how to evangelise it. How are you doing that?