I notice that many Christians and ministers in particular, seem to have a chip on their shoulder about people that “refuse to hear the truth” and “just want everything sugar coated”. Let me say that I understand that the minds of sinful humans are…well, sinful and proud and prone to reject the truth, and carnal men desire carnal things, not spiritual.
But sometimes I think that we beat up our listeners and our congregations in response to a “lack of listening” that stems from poor preaching or lack of ‘relational capitol’. The primary burden of communication isn’t on the listener, it’s on the speaker. To get angry at people because they aren’t listening and show it with your tone and word choice isn’t going to make them more likely to listen, rather less. The reality is that there are ways you can cultivate receptivity in your listeners…
1) Spend time establishing relationship which produces as sense of common ground, trust and the fact that they matter to you.
2) Cultivate and model an atmosphere where the Holy Spirit is free to move and open peoples hearts to the Word in your services (pray and let God move).
3) Let the Lord develop you as a communicator, don’t be too proud to adjust your approach. Style isn’t sacred. Rapport with your listeners is non negotiable, to ignore that concept is arrogance. However, approach will look different in different cultures (north, south east, west, mid-west, urban, rural, ethnic, etc…)
4) Submit your preaching attitude to the basic building blocks of Christian character. If people walk away from our messages not having sensed the fruit of the Spirit in us ( whether they know what that is or not), how can we say we’ve been Christlike in the pulpit? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control….go a long way toward cultivating a willingness to listen.
Stop blaming your listeners, take responsibility for relating to them, facilitating an encounter with God’s presence, grow as a communicator, and be Christlike in the pulpit…..It will help.