Listening with Jesus in a Pluralistic Society

Written by Anne Alexander, Doctor of Intercultural Studies

What do you think about the present culture? Complex question? Of course. There are so many moving parts in today’s culture that Jesus-followers can be cowed into silence, fearing they might offend someone. This is NOT a course on how to avoid offending people by soft-peddling truths the Bible makes plain. It’s also NOT a course only for extroverted seminary-trained evangelists. And it is definitely NOT a course on using one-size-fits-all evangelistic presentations.

What IS it, then? It’s a course aimed at empowering normal Jesus-followers to listen with one loving ear toward to those whom God sends their way, and one ear toward the Lover of our souls.

First, an introduction. Like my parents, I felt God communicate with me as a child about becoming a missionary. As I watched my novice-missionary parents, I saw Dad, a shy physiology professor, schedule undirected time with each of his students every semester just to listen to and get to know them. He and Mom made themselves “profoundly available” to fellow faculty, staff and total strangers. Over time I began to notice radical changes in the lives they honored and respected by non-judgmental listening and service, even in Taiwan’s very complex society. Science students became pastors or went into helping professions. Marriages were saved. People began to follow Jesus or experience a renewal of faith. Since then (as an introvert) I’ve used what I learned from my parents to validate, encourage and reflect loving truth by listening with many in Taiwan, the US, and elsewhere. I can tell you stories….

In 1990 I discovered a series of excellent practical training courses offered by Equipping Ministries International. Through them I was able to find healing as well as training by attending whenever I returned to the US. The foundational material (in one of our textbooks), Listening For Heaven’s Sake, will be offered during our summer course, with added video and reading material to augment our lively discussions over Zoom.

Forty years ago Rebecca Pippert wrote about the need for evangelism in Out of the Saltshaker. In 2020’s Stay Salt: The World has Changed; Our Message Must Not, Becky writes: “…Even as our cultural landscape becomes increasingly secular, secularism does not have the power to erase our human longings for meaning and
worth. If anything, it increases them.” (p.16) In one of her conferences she asked, “Can you describe in a few words the person who most influenced you to become a Christian?” The answers included, “Loving… listened… not judgmental… took me seriously… looked for good in me… appreciated my questions… available… hospitable…” (p.171) Stay Salt, Listening for Heaven’s Sake, and God Space: Where Spiritual Conversations Happen Naturally will be our three main texts.

This course will encourage you, whatever your gifting, experience, situation or call, to “listen with Jesus” as His love pours through you to beloved fellow sinners.