Churches in Partnership, Sharing Resources, Inviting and Equipping Disciples

Learning to Listen

Jul 13, 2022 | Reflections

 

While still a Pastor in Lincoln, NE, I experienced a seven (7) year dry spell where I did not hear God speak to my heart. I did everything I knew to do. I prayed, read my Bible, etc. still silence. What I did have was my faith that God had been with me and the promises of the Bible that God would be with me, so I waited. To make what would be a very long story short, it was not that God was not speaking but that I was not able to understand what God was saying.

Solving this interpretation issue became apparent sometime after the silence had ended. It became clear that God had not stopped talking. But God started communicating differently than I had been accustomed to, and thus the silence. So, it took me seven years to learn and grow into a space where I would be able to hear, learn, and understand the new way God was now speaking and being revealed to me.

On this past 4th of July, I was at Green Lake at the ABCUSA International Ministries World Mission Conference. This conference was a fantastic time with missionaries on home furlough, newly commissioned but not deployed Missionaries, Regional Executive colleagues, and a host of new friends from the ABC family.

While at the conference, I concluded the Church is living in a moment where God is doing something new. Unfortunately, like me, during the silent years, the Church is having difficulty discerning what God is saying because God is communicating differently from how the Church is accustomed.

Like me, the Church needs to relearn how to interpret the new language of God. Sometimes, a new area of focus is necessary to help give a new interpretation of what was previously incomprehensible. The Church would do well to focus her attention where she can see God moving and join in. Also, while at the conference, I felt that supporting others, e.g., deployed Missionaries, would be a way to help the Church retune our ears and refocus our vision. By taking our eyes off ourselves and looking outside our box of familiarity. Looking outside our box can be done by looking to another corner of our ABC family in the good people serving on Foreign Mission fields could be an experiment worth trying.

That is why I believe each Church would benefit if they chose a missionary whom they will come alongside to support with prayer and a heart to listen to discover other ways of support. If every Church could take up this challenge, we would be better positioned to understand what God calls us to hear.

How would it work? As a member of ABCUSA, each Church is connected to the broader network of Global Servants / Missionaries who are always looking for partners to join their team of supporters. As a Missionary partner, Churches can get to know the Missionaries personally and, in so doing, see firsthand what God is doing around the world. And in turn, have better ears to hear what God is saying locally and eyes to see what God is doing locally, helping the Church better become the hands and feet of God

Could this be the opportunity God wants to use to teach us how to understand better what God is saying and doing in our current context? We may never know if we do not try.

How can you get connected? First, of course, you can set up a time to have me come to your Church and talk to you or your congregation. However, you can also get the ABCUSA international Ministries Guide to Global Servants to find the area of the world you want to make an impact on and reach out to the Missionary who serves there. And yes, it is just that simple.

Becoming a Beloved Community

In my address to the participants and delegates at the ABCCONN Annual meeting held in September 2021, I invited ABCCONN to imagine a new paradigm of the regional ministry. I preposed that we who make up ABCCONN rethink our priorities by making the relationship with one another the priority.

Baptists have always held relationships as a critical component of our identity. We know this component as the