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How significant are openness and listening skills to personal teaching/evangelism?


Listening skills are absolutely critical to effective evangelism/personal teaching. I liked how the reading highlighted the difference between hearing and listening. I will often find myself distracted at home while my wife is talking to me. She can tell in those times, and I not actively listening and will ask, “Are you listening to me?” I of course respond by saying, “Yes, you just said (xyz).” She will then tell me that just because I heard the words, she said does not mean I am listening. Actively listening with your heart will help you win over another person. This goes back to the old adage, “They don’t care what you know until they know that you care.” Communication is much more effective and meaningful when we take time to truly listen and learn how others experience the world.

Openness is sharing your thoughts and feelings with another person. It includes being willing to share your secret or hidden self, including weaknesses, failures, mistakes, successes, and innermost feelings. Before anyone will open up to you but must be open and share freely of yourself. I love the message in the reading about being free of judgement. This is a very real and common tendency that will shut down someone’s desire to be open with you very quickly. We must be open as we share and hear of the personal feelings and backgrounds of another. I also agree that openness is an honesty with God, self, and others. Openness is a clear Biblical principle demonstrated by Paul, Luke, and most importantly, Jesus Christ.

I feel that these principles have been very important to our class thus far as I have worked to share my thoughts and feelings openly in journals and discussion posts. I have appreciated the openness displayed by other members of this course as well. We began by sharing a little about our personal life and background. That was an important practice that helped me open up to my fellow classmates and Dr. Shepherd. I feel the manual is very comprehensive in covering the skills I have used as I have tried to be open for others. I would only add the importance to be vulnerable and put yourself out there even when it is tough. This kind of raw openness can pay big dividends and really help those you teach and associate with as they truly open up to you.


How significant are openness and listening skills to personal teaching/evangelism?


Both openness and listening skills are central to success in personal teaching and evangelism. No two people are going to have identical circumstances, even if there are similarities. We cannot possibly know how best to help them, where their faith struggles, doubt, and difficulties are to be found if we do not actively listen to “their story.” They are the product, both personally and religiously, of their cumulative experiences. They have come to believe the way they specifically do as the result of all of this, regardless of what specific religious group (if any) they claim to be a member of. Too often, we programmatically try to steer people without truly knowing how they think and what they believe on matters central to their soul’s salvation. We must be convicted that “he who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him” (Prov. 18:13).

Alongside of this, there must be an openness expressed toward them. They need to know they are loved and accepted despite looks, behaviors, and attitudes that reveal their unredeemed condition. Beliefs, morality, and actions will be challenged by the truth of the gospel, but they should always feel that we are on their side and anxious and willing to aid them in following Jesus. They need to know that their past, however dark, can be overcome and forgiven through Christ. They should understand that we will be patient and gentle as we help them come to the knowledge of the truth (2 Tim. 2:24-26). We can certainly model openness by our willingness and ability to be vulnerable and human, to acknowledge our own failures and foibles rather than coming from a “holier than thou” perspective.

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