We had a great day in the Lord this Sunday! Working backwards, a number of us went out to lunch and had a wonderful time interacting over a meal together, enjoying good fellowship. Let me encourage everyone to join us this coming Sunday for our monthly Brown-Bag-It lunch in the Fellowship Hall downstairs after the service, because it’s so important to be able to spend quality time together as a family -- even a church family.
Before that, we hosted our annual Small Group Ministry Fair (which we may need to rename next year, since two of our littlest FCCers were disappointed to find that there were no Ferris wheels or funnel cakes at the Fair after the service). An amazing amount of the ministry to one another that goes on in our church goes on within the Small Groups themselves, so I encourage everyone to consider connecting themselves to one of the Bible study groups going on in our church, such as:
Sojourners -- made up primarily of young couples
Koinonia -- a long-standing group engaging in intense Bible study
Hilltoppers -- made up primarily of older couples
Marketplace Disciples -- focusing on Christian life in the workplace
In our message this week, we continued the series that we began last week, designed by our denomination, using the acronym, “BLESS,” to describe the stages of a healthy outreach ministry: Begin with Prayer, Listen with Care, Eat Together, Serve with Love, Share your Story.
So this week, we discussed the three major roadblocks to listening to others:
1) The “Me Monster” within each of us who is just waiting for their chance to say what they really want to say.
2) The “Assumptive Listener” within each of us who only hears what they felt like a person was saying, or what they’d expected to hear from the other person (and we didn't even get to lunch before we had at least three dramatic examples of this within our church family).
3) The self-absorbed part within each of us who quite frankly just has more important things to do than to listen (like read a text, watch TV, peruse the newspaper, etc.).
But over and over in Scripture, we’re reminded that we need to stop and consider other people’s hearts, other people’s points of view, other people’s conclusions, etc., before we just run ahead and spout off our own words. We need to be slow to speak and quick to listen, we need to consider others more important than ourselves, we need to show respect and restraint to earn the right to be heard, and we need to remember that when we don’t listen before we speak, we run the genuine risk of misunderstanding the whole point of the communicative episode.
Even Jesus made it a point to stop and listen to the blind man outside of Jericho, the woman at the well in Samaria, the woman with an issue of blood, and countless others -- not because He didn’t know their stories, but because He cared about them as human beings.
Isn’t that exactly what you and I should do as well?