Listening vs. Silence

You may believe this or not, but I am regularly accused of being silent on issues that confront our church community. I want to assure you, that I am choosing to remain silent in order to gain perspective, or I am remaining silent to understand the issue. Sometimes the issue is more nuanced than I may perceive, or the issue is not as complex as I might think. Either way, silence is always a good place to start – particularly when everyone is screaming about this, that, or that other thing at the same time!

My silence in response to the racial tension that seems to be engulfing us is not silence from apathy or disdain. My silence is more of a mournful silence as I can think of several instances where I was treated with a negative bias based upon the color of my skin, my squinty eyes, or my gray beard. I could tell you stories from Ecuador, Alabama, Nevada, South Dakota, Ohio, and Puerto Rico. Many of my personal stories of racial bias include police officers, TSA agents, and other governmental agencies. I am not silent due to apathy, ignorance, or even disdain.

My seeming silence about the church’s right to assemble is not due to apathy, ignorance, or fear. My livelihood is dependent upon the church being the church. It is not because I wanted the last three months “off” or wanted an opportunity to work from home. I have been busier in the past three months than in my past twenty years of ministry; all the while, I was learning new tricks, chasing a moving target, and re-thinking what church could and should be.

My silence about encouraging every member to obey the law of the land is not due to apathy, ignorance, or fear. I have been careful to read the current health code as it pertains to the local church. I have been watching and tracking the data to try and discern what is being said in the health code rather than just following the letter of the law. I have been overwhelmed, frustrated, angered, and disturbed by the way so many seem to pick and choose what they want to believe or not.

My silence has been driven by a value to listen and consider. I have concluded that the primary role of the church in this day and age is to stay the course. I believe my mandate in crisis as the lead minister of HarvestDowntown is to stay at the helm. This means that I will remain accessible to listen and consider every position, option, and conviction. I will always keep my eye on Jesus – the Author and Editor of my faith. I will cross reference every decision with the scriptures and allow the Spirit to perform surgery on my own heart before I choose a course. I will seek the counsel of the elders with each decision that impacts the church community. I will never assume that I have all the knowledge, information, or data; but I will act in faith when I believe that I have been given wisdom from God.

Please, do not perceive my silence as callousness, apathy, or disdain. Any silence on my part is to listen – both to God and the concerns of the people. My silence is a direct reflection of my choice not to be swayed by every wind of change or opinion that comes to my attention. I want to be moved by the Wind – the very Spirit of God. I want to be sensitive to the cross winds and currents of culture and skillfully navigate His church through the storms.

I love the church – I choose to stay at the helm. I love the church – I choose to listen to godly people. I love the city – I choose to be aware and alert of its needs and issues. I love my neighbor – I choose to have people of every walk of life at my table. I love Jesus – I choose to obey His call upon my life. I love the Spirit – I choose to listen to His voice. I love the Father – I choose to submit to the Son to the glory of the Father.

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