Lutheran Church Extension Fund

Healthy Churches Listen Well!

Reading time: Less than three minutes. Yogi Berra said, “You can observe a lot just by watching.”  That’s hard to argue with. I’m a big believer in continuing education programs.  My personal goal is to say, “I learnedIntellectual Curiosity something this week” every week.  But I think intellectual wellbeing goes far beyond book learning. In the body of Christ, every person has something to share, some insight or experience from which I could learn.  You can observe a lot just by listening. I regret how often I have been slow to listen and slow to learn.  In my old, corrupt, fallen nature, I’m interested in ME more than WE.  When I’m open to the Spirit who lives among the many members of the body of Christ, I find that the wisdom found in others is far more interesting than the thoughts running around in my own head. Let me give you a few simple examples.  Be sure and send me one or two of your own in the comments section below! Young_peopleI was often way to slow to listen to the young people of our congregation.  They would come back from a youth gathering with a new song: “Pastor Z, we’ve got a GREAT new song !  Can we sing it in church?”  Instead of being curious, I’d launch into my speech about our high standards for music in worship, only later to discover that it was a really great song and became a staple in our services. I’m glad I listened to the young people returning from service focused mission trips.  The kids got it first; the adults figured it out later by listening to the young people giving their reports. Service ministry in the world and in the community had a profound influence on shaping us to be a more vibrant, Spirit-led, outreach focused church. Our church became a little more the church God wanted us to be because we listened. I wish I had listened to older members sooner and more carefully than I did.  I once announcedLCMS_Mercy_logo in Bible class at our 75 year old church, “I have a theory about the founding Pastor of our congregation who served from 1930-1942.” Two women in the class said to me, “We knew Pastor Klinkermann.  We were eight and ten years old when he left.  Our parents talked about him for years.  What would you like to know?”  Oops.  A little intellectual curiosity by the guy who showed up in 1994 might have been appropriate! I could go on and on. The change from red carpet to blue (a significant and lengthy controversy) went much more smoothly once we listened to those whose family pictures of baptisms, weddings and funerals all had a red background. My preaching improved when I got curious and asked people what it was like to listen to my sermons.  Wish I’d done that one years sooner! I found that some pastors who I had written off years ago (“I bet I know what he’s thinking”) have suddenly become very interesting after some more focused conversation and real listening. I went to a bunch of district conventions this year because it’s a good place to visit with a lot of pastors.  Some of my best conversations about church worker wellness were with lay delegates. Open your ears, Darrell! I think you get the idea. Thanks for listening! Are you interested in helping bring a Grace Place Wellness Retreat to your region?  We’d love to hear from you.  Contact our President/CEO Randy Fauser today to begin exploring the possibilities.  Let’s have a conversation about bringing our Classic Retreat to your area soon!