December 10, 2003

Pomo catechumenate: the "Listening Guide"

In this post I wrote about a metaphor to describe the role of catechism in postmodern faith communities. Quick review: the Guide (catechist) gives the Traveller (catechumen) direction in his spiritual journey using the Map (catechism), the "Big Picture" that covers all the spiritual territory he's likely to pass through.

In that context, while I was reading at BeyondPostHuman this morning, Brad helped me see the importance of listening for the Spiritual Guide. He's writing about the difference between preaching (which is basically monologue) and proclamation (which he defines as more of a dialogue) when this pearl of wisdom pops up:
i'm not sure proclamation is taught in seminary, though preaching is. preaching is more about developing your ability to speak and say something that's right for the listener. proclamation is more about developing your ability to listen and then say something that's relevant to the listener. if that's accurate, then perhaps there's hope that a congregational teacher can connect both proclamation by knowing the context of the listeners AND preaching by developing an engaging way to communicate, and it is more of a conversation.
Implication: to be a good Spiritual Guide, you have to be a good listener. The only way to know what road the Traveller is on is to listen to him describe his surroundings.

Application: if I'm going to move into the Spiritual Guide role in our community, I need to develop my listening skills. But more than that, I need to develop my "get out of the office and hang out with people" skills. It's tempting for a senior or solo pastor to become entrenched in his or her office, but it's hard to do much listening from behind the Big Desk. I think I'm going to hang a sign over my work station: This is not the Church.


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