What do the non-churched and the de-churched want? We’ve been listening to a bunch of them.

In the past few weeks we’ve met with agnostics, atheists, a Muslim, a former Wiccan high priestess, gang members, and people who have been hurt by the church. Want to know want they yearn for—that they have not found in the churches they’ve tried? A listening ear.

Their perception: “Churches and Christians in general just want to talk, to sell their deal. There’s no time for my views or my questions.”

They want to be a part of the conversation. If we want to reach them, we need to be good relational architects, good listeners. Like Jesus demonstrated.

How can you demonstrate that you care about listening? Some things to consider:

• Encourage spontaneous questions. Don’t worry about having snap answers.

• Devote half your “message” time to listening. Encourage thoughts from the people—in instant small clusters and/or in town-hall-meeting style.

• If you use social media, curtail the pastoral platitudes. Devote half your tweets or updates to asking good questions about things you really wonder about (not loaded questions).

If you believe that people need a relationship with Jesus, begin by modeling some relationship basics. Like listening.