Leading by Listening

The other night during my prayer and Scripture reflection time before going to bed I came upon a Scripture that struck me as super relevant to Veritas and this church planting journey. The funny thing is that it struck me as almost counter-intuitive to so much of our modern church planting leadership ideas, The scripture is James 1:19 and this is what it says in The Message "Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear." I know this passage isn't talking about leadership but what caught my eye is the phrase Lead with your ears. In this text it basically means listen before you speak. Or the old adage you have two ears and one mouth so that you can listen twice as much as you speak. But in the context of planting a church it is an interesting thought. That, as leaders of a church plant, one of the main things that we should be doing is leading by listening. First of all we need to listen to God and see what he is saying through his word, through others, through worship, through prayer, through silence, and through his creation. Secondly we need to listen to the world around us and hear what is going around us and how the gospel can be brought to bear on various situations that we encounter. It's like what Steve Taylor said in the book "The Out of Bounds Church."...."I sit on the fault lines of a cultural shift. In my right hand, I hold a video remote. In my left hand, I hold the gospel of Jesus."

Around the same time that I read the Scripture I also became familiar with the process of starting a Fresh Expression (A fresh expression is a form of church for our changing culture, established primarily for the benefit of people who are not yet members of any church), which in many ways connects with how we should be going about planting churches in our post-Christendom, postmodern world. This process starts not with a demographic study, a church planting prospectus, a vision statement or anything that many modern church plants start with. The Fresh Expressions process starts with listening and following God's call. Below is the process in diagram form.

So what does this mean for me and for Veritas? It means that I need to spend more time in prayer. Something that I have been trying to do at least once a week for the past few weeks is to spend some time prayer walking in the city, around the F&M Campus, and around my neighborhood. I need to make it a priority to spend time in prayer and listening. It means that we need to take things one step at a time and trust God that he is working already and we just need to figure out (by listening) where he is working, what he is doing, and what he wants to do and then join him in what he is doing, and dream together on ideas to accomplish what he wants to do.

My prayer is that I will lead Veritas by being a listener.