Friday, January 09, 2009

Theology of Listening: Short Bible Study

Recently I taught a 90-minute workshop on ethnographic methods. I tried to make it as practical and interactive as possible - a true workshop, with people coming out of it with actual skills and tools at the end.
Did you know anthropology and sociology can be among your most useful tools for ministry? Explore how to effectively take on the role of a learner as you dive into a new culture, become part of the community through participating, ask good questions, and carefully listen to people’s stories.

But taking that approach meant I didn't have a time to unpack all my fun sociological stuff - how and why to learn about certain topics - or to build a theological foundation for the whole thing. To solace myself, I boiled my theology section down into this little Bible study and put it on the back of my handout. Feel free to swipe this if there's some place you can use it.

To study on your own: a theology of listening

1. Who is the best listener in the universe? Why do you think this is? Why does he listen to people? What does that have to say to us about this topic?

2. Explore the connection between listening and wisdom. Start with Proverbs 12:15, 18:13; 18:2, 12:18, 19:2, 4:1-4, 4:10-13, 4:20-22. Who should listen? Who should we listen to?

3. Ponder the funny thing Jesus used to say: Revelation 2:7, 2:11, 2:17, 2:29, 3:6, 3:13, 3:22, 13:9; Matthew 11:15, 13:9, 13:43; Mark 4:9, Luke 8:8, Luke 14:35. Why do you think he said this? Do you fit the qualifications he describes?

4. Listen first, speak later: Study James 1:19-21, 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 9:22-23. What do these passages teach us about the value of listening? What gets in the way of really being able to listen?

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