Being Willing to Listen - Word&Way

Being Willing to Listen

To say the first half of 2020 has been a wild ride would be an understatement. Churches haven’t gone untouched.

We see the jokes on social media about everything from the pandemic to murder hornets to racial riots. But here’s the thing: the jokes are there to mask the pain that we are collectively feeling as a nation.

Christopher Dixon

Christopher Dixon

Like many we have spoken with, we’re tired of hearing and talking about the pandemic. We have ‘pandemic fatigue’ at our house and are ready to move on, even if the pandemic isn’t done with us.

That’s not to say that we’re not trying to be vigilant or taking the matter seriously, because we certainly are. But the racial unrest following the killing of George Floyd has moved our attention to another pressing matter at hand.

Racial inequality is real in our nation. That much we know.

How to address it as believers and in our churches remains up for discussion.

Are our churches wrong if they are predominantly white? Or for that matter Black, brown, etc.? And am I automatically a racist if I was born white into a predominantly white community?

The answer is ‘no’ on those questions. I am no more wrong — by default anyway — than my brown or Black friend, neighbor, or family member.

(Lee Campbell/Unsplash)

Where I become guilty, for lack of a better word, is when I stay silent about the injustices occurring around me.

As urban contemporary gospel singer Kirk Franklin points out in one of his songs, when we “say nothing, we are saying something.” In other words, if we enjoy privilege and/or blessings of any type, our Christ-like responsibility is to speak up for those who have less power — the “least of these,” if you will.

Most of us who seek to truly follow Christ hope that Floyd’s death will serve as a catalyst for continued discussions (not riots, violence, or anything that isn’t peaceful) about things like statues, police and public interaction, and more. These discussions need to be peaceful and lawful, but they also need to also be authentic and productive.

And as the Body of Christ, the key for us is to be willing to participate in the discussion. Because change begins when we are first willing to listen.

Christopher Dixon is chief operating officer of eLectio Publishing ( and pastor of West Finley Baptist Church near Fordland, Mo. He is also a Word&Way trustee.