Gospel Listening

“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.” – Karl Menninger

This past year, we began taking our Base Camp leaders through The Gospel Primer to see how this material helps us better understand the Gospel, and contextualize it in every day life. It’s been an eye-opening process for all of us.

A few months ago, we talked about the concept of gospel listening. The art of paying attention to the patterns of God’s greater story of Creation – Fall – Redemption- Recreation in each of our own personal stories.

This has been particularly convicting to me – because I’m finding out just how bad of a listener I can be. Too often, I’m more concerned about telling someone what I think, or fixing a problem rather than hearing gospel patterns in someone else’s story that would allow me an opportunity to speak good news into their life.

One of the exercises this week was to identify three different people to practice gospel listening with – so I have to admit, my antennae were up. Our only assignment was not to share the Gospel – but simply to listen - through a Gospel filter.

It has been pretty incredible. One time, I was actually quiet enough to hear something that sounded like “the fall” in someone’s life – and it gave me an opportunity to encourage him with something I could identify as “redemption” that even he couldn’t see.  And without even using these words, we could both see the possibility of “recreation” emerging in the story as we spoke.

Caesar Kalinowski calls this kind of listening “partnering with the Holy Spirit” as we ask Him to give wisdom and insight into what is really going on in a person’s heart. Yes, at times we as humans can only guess – but “the Spirit always knows the hearts of everyone perfectly.”

I’d really encourage you to practice this. Gospel listening – in the power of the Holy Spirit – can transform our conversations. It can enable us to have a Gospel encounter in just about any conversation we find ourselves in.

And if I’ve learned one good lesson this week… I simply need to do less talking, and more listening. And let God take care of the rest.

Brian Petak