I'm really good at talking. I could talk all day. I surely drive my nearest and dearest nuts. And I'm terrible at listening. I try, I really do. But it's hard. It takes work. Churches struggle with this, too. We're great at spewing all kinds of information out ... without necessarily considering what it is that our friends and guests need to hear.

I'm a little afraid of pastors who yell. But I caught a sermon on Moody Radio earlier this month by Tony Evans. He is a bit of a yeller, but his message grabbed me.

Tony talked about how we're really good at spewing our concerns and requests to God. But we're terrible listeners. We've forgotten that communication is a two-way street ... even with God. Especially with God. We've forgotten to be quiet and listen for what He wants to tell us, what He's up to and how we can take part in His plans.

For me, this was convicting on several levels. As far as prayer goes, I definitely like to talk God's ear off way more than to shut up and listen. Same thing goes for conversations with my friends and family. And I know there are many churches out there that struggle with this, too. 

So, here are just a few tips for making sure you aren't just thinking about you when you communicate: 

  • Stop. Before you start writing something for your church, think “what does my audience really need to know?” Do potential guests truly want to read an exhaustive church history or do they maybe just want to know where to drop off their kids on Sundays? 
  • Look. Put yourself in the shoes of a first-time guest. When you glance at your brochures or website can you find the essentials super fast? Readers are usually on a mission with extremely limited time and attention spans. Make sure they can find what they need to know within seconds. The same goes for signage in your building. Can you spot the bathrooms, kids' areas and welcome/newcomer spots quickly?
  • Listen. This is the most important tip of all. It isn't always intuitive to us what our audience needs are. So we've got to start listening. Ask questions. Get your hospitality and reception folks listening for you. What are the most common questions from guests and regular attenders? What information do people seem to have trouble finding about your church?

I'm on a mission to be a better listener ... to God and those around me. Will you join me?

Photo by andypowe11