The McCrindle Research ‘Faith & Belief’ report (see it here) is always a fascinating read. Some headline findings from their 2017 research are as follows;
|Homosexuality||Hell & Condemnation||Suffering||Supernatural Elements||Role of Women||The Bible||Science & Evolution|
|Church Abuse||Hypocrisy||Religious Wars||Judging Others||Issues Around Money|
I find it intriguing that behaviours seem more of a distraction to someone exploring faith than the beliefs themselves. How people experience other Christians, and how those Christians live out there faith, seems to have a massive impact on someone else being willing to explore faith and the person of Jesus.
Interestingly, McCrindle found the following ton be true;
“More than half of Australians (52%) are open to changing their religious views given the right circumstances and evidence. Younger Australians are more open to changing their current religious views than older generations.”
So, what DO people value when it comes to exploring faith?
Another research group, Barna Group, found the following;
“For instance, more than six in 10 non-Christians and lapsed Christians (62%) say they would be open to talking about faith matters with someone who listens without judgment—the top quality they value—but only one-third (34%) sees this trait in the Christians they know personally.”Barna Group
Listening without judgement, interesting. Could listening play a key role in someone exploring faith?
Welcome to Part 2 in a series called ‘B.L.E.S.S. – Engaging the world around us.’ This series draws heavily on the book “B.L.E.S.S. – 5 Everyday ways to love your neighbour and change the world” by Dave & John Ferguson. This book outlines five ways to ‘bless’ those around us.
Begin with prayer
It’s not a silver bullet but it is a very practical starting point.
For the purpose of the rest of this post I am going to pick up the second letter of B.L.E.S.S. being L, or ‘Listening without judgement.’
B.L.E.S.S. – Listening without judgement
What role does listening have in someone coming to know Jesus?
The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.
Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.
To answer before listening— that is folly and shame.
Proverbs expresses just how important listening is, and how it is not always the wise approach to just constantly speak. A key question to consider is, are you listening to hear or listening to respond. These are two very different kinds of listening. Listening merely to respond removed to focus from hearing what is being said. A better approach is to listen deeply and then, only after the speaker is finished, do you process your response. It can be hard, but it is worth the effort.
Another scripture that you might find surprisingly connected is the ‘marriage’ verse.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Why is this connected to listening?
“Listening [without judgement] is one of the purest acts of love.”B.L.E.S.S. Dave Ferguson
So here’s another perspective on that verse
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Listening is patient, listening is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Listening does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
When you listen to others without judgement, you’ll hear things you would otherwise have missed.
How do we practically listen without judgement?
First, ask yourself this. Are you a listener? If yes, keep reading. If no, this is the starting point. Learning to be a listener is essential to listening well.
Secondly, as alluded to above, do you listen to hear or listen to respond? Focus on giving your full attention to the listening task first, and then, when appropriate, work towards responding.
Here are some other practical tips to listening without judgement;
- Listen for the God piece you can affirm rather than listening to correct what is wrong.
- Assume the best rather than assuming the worst.
- Your goal is not to ‘win’ the conversation.
- Ask more questions, give fewer answers.
Finally, you’ll find a ‘listening questions resource’ on our Engage Resources page. Why not check it out?
Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™