The rhythms of a missional church: #2 listen

We in the Edge Network have adopted five rhythms in an attempt to encapsulate what it means to live our values. Each month for the past few months someone has been designated a ‘rhythm champion’ to encourage people to think about and practice the rhythm of the month. Here are the notes I produced to support this.

2. listen

the challenge

Each week we aspire to listen to God, looking for him to guide us through his word and Spirit. And we listen to people around us to understand their stories and the story of our culture.

links to our identities and values

Identities * Because Jesus is our Prophet, we are the light of God. God has illuminated us through Jesus … * Because the Holy Spirit is God’s empowering presence, we are the temple of God … the home in which God lives.

Values * Listening to God * 9. Everyone exercising gospel ministry … We shape activities around gospel opportunities, and the gifts and passions of church members … * 10. Shaped by the Bible: We want our lives and our life together to be formed and shaped by the Bible’s story of redemption … We will not act on the basis of tradition, habit or pragmatism without reflection on the Bible … * Listening to people around us * 5. Inclusive communities … We are committed to … making church accessible to unbelievers. We want to offer a sense of belonging, and be communities of grace in which people can be open and vulnerable. * 6. Working for city renewal … We celebrate the diversity of cultures in our local contexts while recognising the need for gospel renewal.

biblical foundations

God is not silent. God has spoken. Jesus is the Word of God, sent by God into the world to reveal God to us. The Spirit of God inspired the word of God (the Bible) so it is our reliable guide to God’s character, plans and will. God speaks. God continues to speak through his word and Spirit. We listen. We read and study God’s word to discover his will. In the Bible ‘listening’ involves paying attention and acting on what we hear. It’s a hermeneutical stance. We hear God as God’s Spirit makes God’s word clear, moves us as the Bible is read or taught, gives us a special concern for a situation, provides insight into an issue or prompts us to action. The Spirit works in all believers so we can all hear God speaking. The church is the community of the Holy Spirit: God speaks to, and through, the Christian community. We have other ‘voices’ in our lives (the world around us, our own desires) so we need to bring our impressions to the church community. * We listen to people around us to express love for people, and understand their stories, hurts, hopes and culture. We want to learn from others, value what is good, challenge what is wrong, know how to present the gospel in a relevant way. We often take control of conversations by talking; listening is letting others be in control. People sometimes say, ‘You’re not listening to me.’ It shows how we can hear information without really paying attention.

Bible stories

Exodus 19 and Deuteronomy 4 – God speaks to his people. * 1 Samuel 3 – God speaks to Samuel.
John 14 – God speaks through Jesus. * Acts 10 – God guides Peter, speaks to Cornelius and spends Cornelius a Bible teacher. * Acts 13:1-3 – the Holy Spirit sends out missionaries.* Acts 16:6-10 and 19:9-11 – God guides and comforts Paul.

putting it into practice

*    Invite people to talk about how God has been speaking to them during the past week.
*    Conclude a Bible study by asking people what God has been saying to them and to us as a community.
*    Challenge people to read the Bible regularly using The Edge Network weekly reading scheme.
*    Encourage people to read the Bible as an act of prayer, asking that God would speak to them.
*    Create space in meetings for people to talk about what God has been putting in their hearts.
*    Tell stories of the local neighbourhood or local people.
*    Let the ‘listen’ rhythm shape your other rhythms by asking God:
– Who should I bless this week and how?
– Who should I eat with this week?
– Who should I speak to this week?
– What should I pray about this week?
– Who should I rest and play with this week?