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Posts Tagged ‘listen’

Talking and listening

We’ve been thinking about the role of talking, or speaking in our current Christian Science culture. Our custom is to read or quote, but talking is uncomfortable. When Christian Scientists give testimonies on Wednesdays, there are some generally accepted styles and rules; and beyond those testimonies, Christian Scientists have very little experience talking about Christian Science outside their immediate circle of friends. And yet, the issue comes up, because younger people especially are telling us that listening to readers and the lack of interactivity during church is a strain. So, we’re re-thinking together the significance of talking in a church context.

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Tuesday evening Shirley, Rindy, Amy, and I listened carefully as four people told us why they no longer go to a Christian Science church.

We had invited them to share their thoughts with us, because we want to hear the truth, not guess, why so many people have left our churches. In light of the fact that 40% of our Christian Science churches have closed in the past 30 years, these questions are pertinent.

The information we heard feels a bit like an exit poll, where we asked them to be utterly candid and share their real experiences.

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The power of listening

I was intrigued with the experience with the young Christian Scientists Sunday afternoon, too. We all did the best we could to share what some of our best new ideas are, but then the conversation took its own direction. I couldn’t help but feel we were being guided by a loving Presence. Of course I know it’s God, but the feeling of it was like an intelligent Presence. Maybe another word for it is “the Holy Spirit” — like the Spirit that was present at the Bible story of the Pentecost in Acts. I trusted what we heard, because there was no condemning, no judging, no reaction. But there was plenty of love, enthusiasm, and kindness. That’s what made listening easy.

We heard from some of the people how much they appreciated being heard, so it  has occurred to us now that we ought to become even more intentional in our efforts to listen to others. We’re beginning to realize how much we might learn from paying special attention to those who may never feel listened to. Almost all of us have friends and relatives who have been introduced to Christian Science but didn’t hang around. So, join us in the listening.

We have thought from the beginning that our goal is to “enlarge the tent,” because there are lots more people who would love the spirit of what Christian Science has to offer. Listening may well be a tool we’ll polish a bit more often.

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