“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
– Winston Churchill
Our Convergence Church family is enjoying a busy and exciting spring! We are especially excited that we were able to participate in Open Streets 704 on Sunday, April 28. Thousands of Charlotteans came to NoDa to get outside and enjoy food, fun, and music. Our friends from Denver Baptist Church joined us and lots of NoDa businesses along North Davidson Street to help host one of the best street parties of the year. We had a blast sharing bouncy houses, slushie machines, an art raffle, a DJ, and fun games.
As we spent the day among our NoDa neighbors and businesses, I was struck by the beauty of the event in which we were participating. Open Streets 704 was not just an opportunity to let Charlotte know who we are; it was also an opportunity for us to learn more about the people of Charlotte and to interact with our city in a way that we are unable to do inside a church building. I left the event hot and sweaty but wonderfully refreshed by the sense of community we experienced there. I was reminded of yet another of the rhythms that fills our lives: listening.
Listening is difficult to learn, and yet it is a critical skill for healthy relationships, families, and communities. We find it much easier to passively listen to the news, podcasts, music, or any other source that can inform or entertain us. These can be useful to us as we build our understanding of other people and people groups, politics, and the world. However, becoming an active listener requires much more of us. It is so much easier to speak our minds and express our own opinions than to close our mouths and hear what someone else has to say. How often do we listen to the people around us, truly hearing their stories? Scripture says, “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.”
At Open Streets 704, our church was able to step out of our comfort zone and into a place where people may not dress like us, talk like us, or believe like us. We practiced listening and learned more about our neighbors than ever before. We shared meaningful conversations with people from many walks of life and savored the commonalities we all share: joy, sorrow, imperfections, and a need for community. When we practice listening, we begin to understand a little of what it means to “love our neighbor as ourselves.” Keep practicing!
In other news… We are gearing up for a youth event at Convergence called World Changers. World Changers connects young people with local church plants (newly formed churches) and gives them an opportunity to serve these churches and minister to their communities alongside them. Our hope is that our young people learn that everyone has a story to tell, and it is our job to listen. As we engage with these stories, we are able to love, not in word only, but also in deed. What that means is that we will be able to offer real consolation for real problems, not just religious platitudes that leave a soul wanting.
We would love for you to join us as we learn to listen to our NoDa community. Visit us at ConvergenceChurchNC.com to learn more about our church family.