Learning to Listen

September 7, 2009 by  
Filed under Preaching

The WORD Network, The Church Channel, BOV, This is Your Day, Changing Your World, ad- infinitum. This is a very brief list of Cable TV offerings that people watch as they surf through the channels. What do they hear? What skills have they acquired to discern Truth from Error or worse, sheer apostasy? The average American Adult watches (??) hours per week of TV. Some of it will inevitably be ‘religious broadcast’.

Pastors have 30 – 45 minutes at best to shape the thinking of their people, assuming they attend each Sunday. Some percentage of their listeners will also participate in a Small Group or an Adult Bible Fellowship. At best, pastors have 3 hours per week to equip and shape the thinking of people in today’s mobile and autonomous minded culture. (The matter of structure for ministry and making people ACTIVE participants in the Drama of Redemption is a topic for another post).

The simple fact is this. Unless Pastors adopt and apply a very intentional and effective process to equip their people with listening skills, they will ultimately have a congregation full of theological smorgasbord. I often call this the ‘cafeteria’ approach to theology. When my earthly father retired in the Rio Valley of TX, he liked to dine at Luby’s Cafeteria because of the almost infinite variety of choices. When visiting, we were required to join him and at least act like we enjoyed the cuisine!! There is a one to one correlation between Luby’s Cuisine and the ‘variety’ one encounters in listening to cable TV. Both are subject to serious question as to the ‘nourishment’ acquired in “dining” there.

An additional factor in this dilemma, there is no systematic and effective process to know what people are assimilating. Their Worldview is shaped by all the mish-mash they gather from the hermeneutical disasters claiming to ‘preach the word’; (Numerology, Proof-texting, Prosperity ‘Gospel’, Eschatological Weirdos, etc. etc.)

Perhaps the most abused ‘victim’ in this tragedy is context. Any credible Bible School teaches in Hermeneutics 101 the importance of context. Context is King! Listen for 15 minutes and try to apply this vital principle to what you hear.

I have merely introduced the problem or challenge in this post. It is my desire to present some basic guidelines for the persons in the pew to apply while listening. Pray with me that our efforts equip the people of God with the skills and passion to hear, understand, obey and live!

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