If I persist and dominate, I may – once in a blue moon – get this other man to adopt my Lord, to repent of my sins, to pay lip service to my ideas of right and wrong. But his own real world, at the place where he feels deeply and reacts instinctively, will remain untouched.
How important is listening to sharing faith?
Although J.V. Taylor is mainly describing inter-faith dialogue in this quote, his sentiments could easily apply to any situation in which we find ourselves with an opportunity to share our faith with others. So much of our time, when we think and talk about evangelism, is taken up by discussing what we should share. Followers of Jesus can spend hours and hours talking about how to present our faith relevant and attractive to others.
Taylor wants to suggest that perhaps we should spend more time thinking about the how of sharing faith, and in particular the role of patient listening.
For Taylor, the first stage in sharing faith is listening. Listening until we feel we’re able to begin to see the world through their eyes. And then listening more, until eventually we feel we might be able to truly speak in a way which is truly and deeply connective.
Some questions to ponder:
- How important has listening been for you in your mission context?
- What insights have you discovered from trying to see the world through the eyes of others?
- How much time should we commit to the process of sharing faith, before you become impatient?