by Bobby Bruno 4/23/2014 / Christian Apologetics
If you are not actively listening to every word, emotion, and attitude of the person who you are speaking with, you will miss out on the opportunity of getting to know that person's heart. Too many of us "listen" when we are evangelizing, while, at the same time, we are rehearsing the question or sentence we are going to say next. We are so excited for them to know Christ that we place ourselves in the forefront of their salvation instead of letting the Holy Spirit change their hearts. We believe that they must accept Jesus right now so much that we forget that we need only plant the seed. How can we plant the seed if we don't know where to plant it in their lives? This comes from actively listening to their thoughts and answers as we ask the five spiritual questions that can help them see what we, through the Holy Spirit, is telling them about their need for salvation.
When using William Fay's "Hmmmmm Principle" (p. 33-34) we continue to let person we are speaking with know that we are indeed listening without agreeing or disagreeing with the answers they are giving us. Listening in this way keeps us non-judgmental of their beliefs. By actively listening, we allow this person to say whatever they need to say. If we are constantly thinking about what we want to say next, without listening to their answers, thereby asking something next that has nothing to do with what they had just said themselves, we stand to cut them off from the conversation. If this happens, they may never give us another chance to witness to them, because they will now believe that we believe the witnessing was all about us and not about the One who we are witnessing for.
In evangelism, active listening assists us in that, once we give our hearer the sense that we truly care about their future life, they will be more susceptible to listening further to the point of allowing us to share Scripture with them. We have to let people know that they matter to Jesus more than they matter to us. We have to be the ears for Jesus. If we are not actively listening to those He presents to us for witnessing, then we are sending Him garbled communications through our lack of concentrating on the person sitting next to us. Actively listening, while witnessing, keeps the lines of communications open to Jesus' ears. Jesus actively listens to us every second of every day. We must always do the same for Him when He sends us to listen to the harvest He has proclaimed ready to be brought in.
Fay, W., Shepherd, L. E. (1999). Share jesus without fear. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group.
Bobby Bruno was saved 15 years ago in a way that left him no doubt that Jesus wanted him to reach others with His great and abounding love. He started writing at the age of 12 and hasn't stopped since. He achieved Associates Degree in Biblical Studies from Ohio Christian University in early 2014.