Recently, when consulting with a megachurch leadership team, I was reminded of how important listening skills are for pastors and ministers to really connect with the people they are ministering to.
During my talk, I was describing how corporations have developed a “culture of listening” for their customers through mechanisms like toll-free feedback numbers, surveys, satisfaction cards and web response forms. Though their motivation is purely commercial, they have caught on to the fact that people want their voices to be heard and believe they have a right to give input to the companies that develop the products they purchase.
Churches and ministries could learn a few things about listening.
During this session, I encouraged the leadership team to set up systems for listening and to actually care about what they learn. As I was explaining several reasons why I think this is smart, a young team member who was recently married piped up and asserted that his job as a minister is to be “prophetic,” not to “listen” to church members.
I took the opportunity to challenge him to go home to his new wife and declare that from this day forward, he would no longer “listen” to her, but would only tell her what she needed to know. I then asked him to let us know how that plan worked out for him. ;)
Here are a few good reasons why listening matters:
1. It helps you distinguish between what you think is true and what is actually true.
2. It aids you in discerning if what you are saying is resonating with others.
3. It helps you discern if what you are doing is ministering to others.
4. It gives others the opportunity to express their unique perspective.
5. It gives you access to their unique perspective.
6. It creates compassion in your heart as you see the hurts, frustrations and preferences of others.
7. It aids you in confirming the will of God for your leadership decisions.
8. It provides you with insight into the thinking of those you are trying to reach.
9. It will lead you to better solutions than you might otherwise realize.
Yes, we should develop great personal listening skills. But, we should also implement effective organizational mechanisms and systems to help us cultivate a culture of listening that becomes our ministry norm. That’s good branding.