#10: Listening, patience and evangelism #TaylorTuesdays


The… truth that I am learning about the way to deal with the radical difference between myself and the men of a different faith is that I must be patient enough to listen and learn until I begin to see his world through his eyes. At first his view of reality is completely unknown to me. As I begin to catch a glimpse of it, it seems strange; it makes no sense; it may even revolt me. At that point I am sorely tempted to impatience. I want to tell him about my saviour, about the way in which Christ has been the answer to my very English questions, has set me free from my western temptations and fears, has proved himself Lord of our kind of family, and our kind of culture.

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.

The Go-Between God, p.189

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?


What do you think? Join in the conversation by leaving a comment.

Each Tuesday we’re posting a quote from John V. Taylor with some thoughts and questions for reflection. John (or J.V.) Taylor (1914 – 2001) was the General Secretary of the Church Missionary Society, and Bishop of Winchester, and wrote several seminal books on theology of mission, including The Go-Between God: The Holy Spirit and the Christian Mission and The Primal Vision: Christian Presence Amid African Religion. Find all the Taylor Tuesdays posts here.
About the author: James Henley
James Henley
James has been with The Lab since 2007 and leads our team. He's an ordained pioneer minister in the Church in Wales.