Too often, it has been the arrival of the question that has instantly muted the conversation.

As i have sought to write [and invite others to] about topics such as Race and Reconciliation, the Church, Relationships and more, it has been disappointing to me how often a term [White Privilege] or phrase [We aren’t currently part of a local church congregation] or idea [No sex before marriage] has sent people scurrying off back to where people scurry to, before there has even been a chance to engage with why they disagree or think differently, and without them seizing the opportunity of looking at something they have a strong opinion on, from a different point of view.

christians tend, on occasion, to be even worse, often throwing out the line, ‘But the bible says so’ as if that phrase in itself is an adequate defence. They often don’t feel the need to back that up with where they believe the bible might be saying it is so, or being willing to engage in conversations on context and meaning within the wider story of the bible [misquoted or out-of-context single verses being typical to this kind of conversation].


i believe that is such a great start. Simply acknowledging that someone else thinks very differently on a matter than you do, and that it might be helpful to at least ask the question – What if they are right?

Especially if this is something you hold to strongly. If they are wrong and you are right, then asking the question and engaging a little bit more deeply on why they believe differently can only surely strengthen your belief and resolve.

Sometimes people run away from a conversation [or dive in and argue defensively] in which they have not even properly heard what the other person is really saying, and instead are responding to what they thought the person was saying. This calls for more listening and i started to address this last year in a series titled, I’m not sure you’re against that thing you think you’re against, where i looked at Rape Culture and White Privilege as two examples of this. Both of these are such important ongoing conversations to be having and yet so many people refuse to engage or come in swinging without really taking time to properly hear what the conversation is actually about.

i hope in 2015, at the very least, to discover ways to get more people to at least ask the questions – specifically in areas such as race, reconciliation and a unified South Africa; on what being a part of the church really means and how that can best be lived out; on the way men treat women in general and looking towards the hope that we can do better; and in areas of money, giving and poverty. Others may come up along the way, but those are some key areas to me right now, which i feel can use some attention.

One way to improve yourself in this area is to work on your listening. When someone is talking to you, do they have your full attention, or are you already working on your response to them? Take time to listen and then let your response follow.

A second way is to invite different voices to speak to you – we tend to listen [both in terms of who we read or follow online and in terms of who we invite to speak to us] to people who look largely like us [for me that would be christian, white, male, middle class men] and so diversify the information and the stories you take in. From using different news sources, to following bloggers of different race or culture, to reading books written by people with strongly different opinions than yours, start creating opportunities to listen well and maybe even learn. After all, if you only ever listen to voices you agree with, you are less likely to learn new things.

Let’s make 2015 a year of dipping our feet into the deep end and seeing what happens…