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I Dare You to Listen

Last week I made an appointment with a neighbor, to have lunch, to seek his insights about the needs of people in our area, about how a new church might connect. He’s not currently attending a church, although he once did.

I am encouraging everyone in The Gathering Church to set up intentional appointments with friends, neighbors, and co-workers, to get their insights about the area we hope to serve. It seems kind of artificial and maybe a little sales-like to ask someone to participate in a conversation that has an agenda – but when the agenda is nothing more than to listen and learn, some great communication can happen. I provided a set of questions to prime the pump.

My neighbor was more than willing to share his thoughts. Later, he jokingly apologized to Libby for all of the things he had to say. He was open and honest. I learned a lot from listening to him.

Like, his biggest frustration with sermons is that they never invite a ‘conversation’. They seem to only present packaged conclusions, assuming that the conversation is over. He has questions about God, faith, life, work, family. Church seems to be the last place you could ever honestly ask questions. If you have them, you shouldn’t be there, is the message he gets. He looks around at others and says to himself, “Don’t they have these questions? Why don’t they ask them? Is it better to just go through the motions, like they seem to be doing?”

I’m glad that I asked him out for lunch. I’m glad that I asked him a few questions. I think that our conversation has just begun. I’m sure that my preaching and teaching will be shaped by what he said – not his criticisms, but his hopes.

I dare you to find someone to listen to.

Better yet, I dare you to ask someone some questions about hopes, dreams, values, God.


  1. Great read as always. Sounds like your neighbor is just looking for answers not lectures, as we all are.

  2. Roby R Roby says:

    What your neighbor speaks of is what the Bible Church use to do in its early years—after the service, there was a time of sharing where the teaching of the day was up for comment, questions and additions. Then it usually went into sharing of prayers and real needs. I urge you folks to consider this, if you are not already doing it–and the leaders need to be ready to answer the questions or be ready to say “I will work on THAT one
    as it is a good one, don’t know the answer right now”.
    Regards, R to the third

  3. One of the things I love about the Gathering Church is that the service feels like an open discussion and people are free to express their thoughts, pray when they are moved, and ask questions. I tell people often how much I love my Church!!!