Thursday, November 28, 2013

when listening expects speaking: a proposal for a theology of evangelism

I sat in a conversation yesterday. The person shared, deeply, openly, vulnerably. I asked if they felt they had been heard and they said yes.

But it wasn’t enough. My listening seemed to have created space. A space that demanded more than my ongoing silence.

A space in which I needed to speak. For me not to speak would have left the person who initiated the sharing feeling vulnerable – that they had shared, that they had opened up, but that they not been given a gift of my vulnerability in return.

There is a power in withholding. My perceptions remain untested, my prejudices unexplained. These needed to be exposed, tested, tried. I needed to be vulnerable, not by listening, but by speaking.

The co-creation of meaning was not possible unless my listening was followed by my speaking.

At times the church has not spent enough time listening. Equally at times the church has spent too much listening at others.

The church needs to listen. It also needs to learn to speak, vulnerably, haltingly, of what little we do know and have experienced, to test our perceptions and let our prejudices be named, heard, examined.

In other words, the church has a faith to share, in order to remain respectful of the vulnerable space created by listening.

Posted by steve at 06:32 PM


  1. yep

    Comment by Martyn — November 28, 2013 @ 7:43 pm

  2. yes.

    Comment by sarah — November 30, 2013 @ 11:10 am

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