|Trees, in my back yard|
Listening is the first thing. Before acting, listen. Listen, before you speak.
Josh, Dan, and Allie came yesterday and stayed the night. We celebrated our family Christmas last evening. Today I've got a turkey in the oven, and we're preparing for dinner. Yesterday I went to the store to get all the ingredients. Linda wrote a list.
I looked at the list before I put things in the cart. The list comes before the purchase. This is how it is with the Presence-Driven Church. God speaks. We listen. We obey.
First, hear from God. Then, respond as indicated. In the Presence-Driven Church this counsel is for all the people, not just the pastor. Pastors must do this, and show their people how to do this. In the Presence-Driven Church all the people are listening for the voice of God in counsel and direction.
This is not an add-on, something that is OK but peripheral. This is the core. To learn to listen for God's voice is to strike the mother lode. Without this. we're just holding fool's gold. Adam McHugh writes:
"Throughout the Bible listening is the central act of the people of God. They are those who are gathered and formed by his voice and held together by his word. They hear his promises and judgments, instructions and warnings, reassurances and exhortations." (McHugh, The Listening Life: Embracing Attentiveness in a World of Distraction, Kindle Locations 38- 40)
McHugh reminds us that the Hebrew word shema means "listen." This is the first word in the core wisdom of Judaism: Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.
Hear, before you do. This ancient wisdom, when lived and applied in the church, slows things down. The Presence-Driven Church is a slow-cooking, simmering stew of auditory acuteness. In this mixture, disciples are formed, followers are fashioned. "Make disciples," said Jesus. To do that, Slow Church is required.
Pastors - get into God's presence and listen. Teach your people to do the same. Listen to what God is saying to your people, through your people.
I write about listening to God in my book Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.
I'm teaching a five-month class on prayer, beginning Sat., Jan. 7, at Redeemer.