There are a number of ways we can encourage others to speak God's word to us:
1. Speak words of welcome
Are we inviting others to speak God's word to us, to encourage us and build us up. That may mean we need to ask someone to do that because at the moment it is not the norm. It may mean modelling it with others so that we share with them what we have been encouraged by reading or hearing this week and asking them what has encouraged them. It will certainly mean taking part in gospel or home group - engaging in the discussion, asking questions, and giving answers.
It will mean discussing the bible talk you have heard with others after the service over coffee, maybe asking what someone found helpful or what questions it raised, or where they think that will apply to their lives. In know that often it is in these conversations when the truths of a passage really get traction in my life. Such discussion helps ground them and is a sign that we want to welcome God's word to change us rather than just sit and listen to someone speak.
2. Show you welcome it
We often don't realise how much encouragement or discouragement our facial expressions and or body language can convey to someone trying to speak to us. I gave these slightly tongue in cheek examples of faces people pull when they are listening on Sunday mornings:
- The Bulldog screen saver – They look angry all the time, furrowed brow, bunched eye brows, you find yourself wondering what you could possibly have said to offend them.
- The Brick Counting screen saver– Looks round the room as if counting the number of bricks, chairs, carpet tiles etc... but never makes eye contact with the speaker.
- The White Rabbit screen saver – Like the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland always looking at their watches or the clock, sometimes simply moves from one to the other.
- The To Let screen saver- 5 minutes in there are no signs of life, this person hasn’t blinked since the first minute and you find yourself wondering if you should dial 999 with one hand whilst you continue to teach everyone else.
- The Nodder screen saver – This person begins with their head begins upright but gradually dips down towards their chest as their eyes droop before bolting back up again.
- And lastly the Eutychus screen saver – These people may not drop out of the window and die but they are asleep, sometimes the odd snore or trail of drool creeps out just so you can be sure.
And what about body language? It is hard to encourage someone whose body language conveys that they are disinterested. If our shoulders are slumped and we are sprawled out it conveys disinterest, if we are stood with arms folded it feels like encouraging a brick wall.
We want to be those who are encouraging others to speak God's word to us because we treasure it and because it is the power of God to change us and save the world one life at a time.