Listening to community members can make the difference between success and failure. Why do some church leaders fail to try it?
Joy Skjegstad, who consults with churches in the area of community ministry, finds that many churches prefer to skip the listening step and simply launch into a new community project. “It is faster to plan programming without it, because listening takes time—more time than just plotting out what is already in your head.”
Church leaders also tell her they find it intimidating to meet people they do not know, especially when people in the community come from a different ethnic, cultural, socioeconomic, or religious backgrounds than church members.
Finally, Skjegstad suspects that some church leaders do not want new information to contradict their long-held assumptions. “Particularly for congregations that have enjoyed success and that are admired by others as leaders in ministry, community listening can be a humbling process. People in the community may tell you things you don’t want to hear.”
 Joy F. Skjegstad, Seven Models for Community Ministry (Valley Forge, PA: Judson, 2013), 12.
 Skjegstad, Seven Models for Community Ministry, 13.
Image: Josh Braun, www.joshbraun.com