The Receiving End

In my years of doing this church stuff, I have known several leaders who have been more concerned about what they were saying than about what their people were hearing. If I’m truthful with myself, I have to admit that I’ve been one of those leaders from time to time… It’s really, really easy to plan the services we want to plan, to say the things that we want to say, to “shoot truth” at people and then get upset when they put their defenses up.

I would sometimes get riled up when I thought about aiming services at peoples “felt needs.” After all, as a trained pastor, didn’t I know what they needed better than they did? But my arrogance has become more and more apparent as I’ve met more people and heard more of their stories. I’ve never gone through many of the things that the folks in our churches have gone through – I’ve never been divorced, I’ve never lost everything, I’ve never had a child die in my arms… I think that maybe we really do need to start the conversation by addressing people’s felt needs. There’s always room to grow from there, to tell stories about what God can do and has done, to gently guide. I used to think that this kind of attitude was wishy-washy, maybe even weak…

However, now –  in my better moments – I remember that it’s people that God calls us to serve, not our careers or our programs or our preferences or our intellectual constructs… I’m sorry that I haven’t always remembered this. I hope and pray that I do better…

“God never called us to teach the Bible. He called us to teach people the Bible.” – Howard Hendricks

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