Thursday, April 2, 2015

Please Interrupt Me!

I've mentioned before that Seth Godin has a way of getting my creative juices flowing. Last week, under the title "Active Listening," he wrote this:
The kind of listening we're trained to do in school and at work is passive listening. Sit still. Get through it. Figure out what's going to be on the test and ignore the rest. Your eyes can glaze over, but don't let it show. Try not to nod off. People are talking, and they'd like the illusion of listening to accompany that. Don't interrupt.  
Passive listening is letting the other person talk. 
I read this and thought, "Oh wow. He's describing church." Sit still. Get through it. Try not to nod off. Let the other person (pastor?) talk.  If that's not a description of the stereotypical church experience, I don't know what is. And that's what we've been trained to think it should be: observe, absorb, don't interrupt.

Then Godin goes on to offer an alternative:
Active listening, on the other hand, requires that you interrupt when you need a clarification, and it requires that you ask a truly difficult question when the speaker is finished. 
If it's worth listening to, it's worth questioning until you understand it.
That's what I wish church would be. The problem with thinking church is for passive listening is that faith isn't passive. It's disruptive. It interrupts our lives. It practically demands questioning and talking back. Read through Jesus' discourses to the crowds in the Gospels and you see the disciples interrupting and asking questions all the time.

I would love for more people to feel comfortable practicing active listening in church. Explain this part of your sermon, please. What does this hymn mean? Why do we say this in the Creed?

If it's worth listening to, it's worth questioning until you understand it. That's living faith. That's what church should be.

From the Gray,
Pastor Ari

“Which way to something better? Which way to forgiveness? Which way do I go?” -Tom Petty, “Time to Move On”

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