“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another person has to say.”
– Bryant H. McGill
“The L in love stands for listen.”
Marsha Young (go Mom!)
One of my frustrations with the world is that we don’t know how to listen to each other and seem threatened by difference. While I can’t change the world (duh) I can try to model listening at The Messy Middle. With this is mind, “Help Us Understand” will be a 12 interview series this year (one per month) with people people who consider themselves to be spiritual but not Christian.
Too often Christians have judged and made assumptions about peoples’ spiritual and religious beliefs without taking the time to listen and understand what they are actually saying. A friend and I started working on this project in November but he had to bow out and gave me his blessing to continue with it.
In the spirit of listening to people, I’m going to turn off comments on the interviews. I’m doing this because while I trust that those who normally follow The Messy Middle would be respectful, this is a public space and I’m not interested in debating people I don’t know. Instead, I am interested in creating a safe space for those willing to share with us.
Listening can be hard, can’t it? :)! But I know we can do it.
Here are the five questions I plan to use with each interview:
1. What does “spirituality” mean to you? If you practice some form of spirituality, what does that look like?
2. What has been your experience with Christians and the church?
3. If you were a part of a spiritual group/community, what would you want present? What would you not want present?
4. What are some of the unanswered/difficult questions that you continue to wrestle with?
5. What do you wish Christians and the church understood?
I cannot wait to hear from them? Can you? I have been really encouraged by the interest and response and I believe you will be too!
I have several interviews already completed, if you’d like to participate or know someone you think would be willing to help us understand, you can email me at messy middle (at) gmail (dot) com.
I am truly excited about this series. These are questions I genuinely want to discuss with people and I think you do too. So far, everyone I’ve interviewed has thanked me for caring enough to create space for this. I feel a bit weird to be thanked so much. Is it really that unusual? I look forward to these monthly interviews and thank in advance those who are willing to share with us. The first interview will be Thursday.
Each interviewee has expressed gratitude that we would want to hear from them and appreciate the opportunity to share. I can’t wait for you to hear from them too.
With blessing, Amy
p.s. you can comment on this :), just not the interviews. What do you hope to understand a little better? Which question are you especially interested in?
Here are the interviews:
Leslie Verner says
Great idea! Can’t wait to listen and learn!
Thanks Leslie! I’m excited too!!
Jody Collins says
Amy, I think question no. 5 would be the most telling, ‘what do you wish Christians and the church understood?’ I look forward to hearing responses to that one….
Jody, I love how consistently you lean towards love!!
Nita Kulesa says
Amy … These are great questions! Because the theme is listening and listening involves sound, I’d like to see Question #1 include sound … “If you practice some sort of spirituality, what does that look/sound like?”
I’m eager to read the interviews!
Love this! It’s so important (and so difficult!) to just listen without feeling the need to respond. Bless you for doing this and I look forward to reading them.
Thanks Bethany, even in formatting them and getting them ready, it’s been so hard not to respond in some way :)!! I’ll keeping working on being a better listener too!!
This will be very stretching and good for each of us. I am eager to listen… and learn and even change. Thanks for pursuing this idea and making it happen.
Great idea, Amy. I’m already reading with interest. (And kudos on closing the comments for these interviews.)
Thank you for this project.
Hi – When’s the next one?