Online Ministries Begin As “Ministries of Listening”
Posted by Bill Anderton
In the Fall term of our distance learning courses, in one of the live real-time sessions of Dr. Dick Hamm’ course “Recreating the Church: Leadership for The Post-Modern Age,” Dick made this profound but simple statement, "Every Christian has a 'ministry of listening’ to do"
His statement made me recall reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
“The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them. Just as love to God begins with listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them. It is God’s love for us that He not only gives us His Word but also lends us His ear.
So it is His work that we do for our brother when we learn to listen to him. Christians, especially ministers, so often think they must always contribute something when they are in the company of others, that this is the one service they have to render. They forget that listening can be a greater service than speaking.
Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking where they should be listening. But he who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God either; he will be doing nothing but prattle in the presence of God too.
This is the beginning of the death of the spiritual life, and in the end there is nothing left but spiritual chatter and clerical condescension arrayed in pious words. One who cannot listen long and patiently will presently be talking beside the point and be never really speaking to others, albeit he be not conscious of it. Anyone who thinks that his time is too valuable to spend keeping quiet will eventually have no time for God and his brother, but only for himself and for his own follies.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together (New York: Harper & Row, 1954), 97-8.
This wisdom applies to websites as well!
Online ministries are about building REAL relationships with people in VIRTUAL worlds. The virtual world functions very much like the physical world and, like the physical world, relationships begin with listening. Relationships develop more deeply when you continue to listen to people and truly engage them in dialogs.
In fact, this is one of the key differences between a website and a web ministry; ministry-centered sites listen! Another way to say this is that websites are about monologues but web ministries are about dialogs. It is hard to start a dialog without first listening. It is hard to sustain dialogs unless you continue to listen.
Does your website have opportunities to listen to your visitors? Do these opportunities for listening begin on your Home Page and landing pages?
Look for opportunities to listen and begin dialogs on every page of your site and in every facet of all of your online assets. Look for ways to continue dialogs and make them deeper. At some point, after a being in continuing dialog with your visitors, you will find that your anonymous visitors are no longer anonymous. You might even have developed a real relationship in a virtual environment. When you do, you are doing online ministry.
Category: (03-13) March 2013 Tag:
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