2/7/15 Sig about 40Author and church planter Todd Hunter said this about listening: "I'm willing to bet that in our postmodern Christian society the most important evangelistic skill is listening". I think I agree with him, and thought I’d give an example. Yesterday after picking up a few groceries I attempted to use a “million-dollar” gospel tract as a conversation starter with a middle-aged man named Sig (short for Sigfried) on my way to the cash registers. When I explained what it was, Sig brushed it off, saying “I’m an atheist” and starting to walk away. When I first started attempting to initiate gospel conversations, that would have been the end of it, because I would have been left speechless and Sig would have continued on with his atheistic beliefs left unchallenged. What to do? Angry preaching isn’t the answer. I quickly said “Interesting! Have you been an atheist for a long time?” “Over 20 years, so no one is going to talk me out of it” “Was there some sort of incident that caused you to become an atheist?” “When my mother was sick and almost died. I refused to pray for her to get better and realized I didn’t believe in God” This began a ten minute conversation in which I learned that Sig’s mother and wife are strong in their Catholic faith but have long since given up talking to Sig about his beliefs. “I just keep my atheism to myself and everyone else can believe what they want” he said. Through listening and responding to what Sig was telling me I was able to provide a friendly reminder of the truths of the Bible about our accountability to God and the eternal perspective of heaven and hell. Wait – a friendly reminder? Is it possible to talk about these things in a friendly way? Yes it is – if a person is willing to be a good listener and respond to people where they are at. It involves active listening – hearing what people are saying and responding accordingly. It involves asking engaging questions, and developing the patience to listen to people’s stories. It involves having a genuine interest in the perspective of others, and the humility to agree to disagree. It takes a lot of practice. I still have a lot to learn, but I know that I can now engage in conversations where I can share gospel truths with people I wouldn’t have had a chance of talking with when I first started, and it means learning the art of listening.