Think for a moment how many meetings or conversations you have had either sitting in a ministry meeting or in conversation with another leader or pastor trying to figure out what parishioners need. I don’t know if I really want to try and figure out that amount of time. I just know it would be a lot!
I would like to share with you one of the greatest lessons I learned from my Grandfather and Father while growing up in a Funeral Home.
Hopefully if any of you have had to spend time with a Funeral Director because of losing a loved one, this was your experience. I loved being around both my father and grandfather watching them assist the people. One of the greatest lessons they both taught me was to ‘listen’. Listening was the very first thing they would do right after they would say, “I am sorry for your loss”. Before pulling out paperwork, before discussing the logistics of the wake and funeral. Before choosing a casket and grave. They would listen. This is such an important principal when it comes to any kind of pastoral discernment at your parish.
“So many studies and experiences we hear show us that trying to ‘catechize’ the disengaged is not working. People need to be evangelized. First we must listen.
Jesus said to those looking to possible follow him, “What are you looking for?” (Jn 1:38)”
Years ago within our parishes, we would provide all kinds of catechetical formation that would intrigue and engage Catholics. The majority of the time we were ‘Offering’ and not ‘Listening’. Unfortunately, what we didn’t realize then was the slow infiltration of consumerism which was pulling ‘cultural Catholics’ away faster than our Catholic offers were working. It is critical today that we realize how important it is for us as Catholic individuals and parish leadership to ‘Listen’ before we ‘Offer’. Listening is a very important beginning to ‘evangelizing’. It allows you to discover what an individual desires for their lives and possibly what they might be seeking. It helps to develop a sense of ‘trust’ between people.
So many studies and experiences we hear show us that trying to ‘catechize’ the disengaged is not working. People need to be evangelized. You can read about these experiences in Sherry Weddell’s book, Forming Intentional Disciples. If we desire to lead people to discover how their faith can be relevant to their lives, we first must listen. Jesus said to those looking to possibly follow him, “What are you looking for?” (Jn 1:38). Maybe you challenge yourself this week. Pick up the phone one or two evenings to make a call to a few parishioners or friends that you have not had a chance to connect with in a while. And simple ask “How have you been?”, “What is something that you miss the most since this pandemic has happened” and then allow the Holy Spirit to lead the conversation.
If you would like to share with me some of your own experiences listening to others please send me your thoughts through the message form below!
Your friend in Christ,