The church, says Calvin must “become accustomed to hearing men” (apologies for the specific gender reference, it was Calvin)
This is taken from his commentary on Acts 8, the situation of the Ethiopian, the eunuch who’d been shunned by the Jewish community and found belonging in the message that Philip shared, when he listened to the eunuchs plea for understanding.
The question is, how effective has the church heeded these words from Calvin? And whose voices does the church prioritise over others?
In what way might the voice of and from the marginalised shape the ministry and future of the church. But before that, is the church attuned to hearing? And hearing directly, not just those who represent. Not just the voice of the youthworker (as if) but the voice of the young person, especially those, like the Ethiopian are disenfranchised by the establishment, not because of curiosity, or knowledge, but by status, possibly race & sexual confusion. Regardless of what, he was the ‘other’.
When our ministries and churches proclaim relevance but don’t hear people how relevant are they? Is ‘our’ ministry anything if it doesn’t ‘hear’ men/women at all?
Since the Brexit vote, the call has been the church has forgotten it’s communities, what it might have done is served in those communities in its ministries- but has it heard their voices in the process of these ministries to help, but also contextually shape church around them.
If the church heard men, young men & women in communities, other marginalised groups, those sanctioned, those suffering mental health issues, those self harming.
What would happen to the church if it stopped and became accustomed to hearing men. Hearing the people in its activities and ministries.
It might be one thing to serve the poor. But if the church starts to hear. And follow where that hearing takes us. Beyond ministry to understanding and transformation, beyond transformation to belonging and acceptance.
We might not hear the same question as said by the Ethiopian, but unless we create spaces to hear, we’ll not hear anything. If we’re too busy to make activity full then we’re to busy to hear.
If the Guests for whom the performance is for arent listened to and encouraged to provide contributions, then are the actors merely speaking to themselves?
If we don’t hear people. We might just miss out on the voice of God too.