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Quick to Listen: A Letter From the Editor

Fellow cultivators of Christlike kindness and gentleness,

Could I share a Facebook message from my friend Alyssa? I’ll share a few lines at a time in italics.

Quick-to-ListenI’ve finished about a quarter of Quick to Listen . . . Thank you for your work on this book!

Quick to Listen is a book that was released by NPH in November. It has four sections on four different groups: evolutionists, atheists, Bible skeptics, and friends and members of the LGBTQ community. Each section lets people from that group tell their own story at some length and then looks in-depth at key statements the people from that group wish they could get across to Christians. Their viewpoints are illustrated further with quotations from popular experts, talk show hosts, comedians, pop singers, meme makers, and others. Along the way, pastor-authors write about how we can listen with patient empathy, what we can learn from these stories and quotes, and how such conversations might be pointed toward Jesus.

Alyssa’s words continue, suggesting the tremendous value this book will have for those outside the church who need to experience Christian compassion and for those within the church who practice its lessons.

I’ve met many people through work who are hungry for Jesus but feel disqualified from being a part of the church because their lifestyles are sinful.

I love how Alyssa makes friends through her work and gives them space to talk about their consciences, the scars “religion” has left on them, and so on. Many feel harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. It seems Alyssa feels compassion for the same kinds of people Jesus did. “Keep being like Jesus,” I tell her.

We sit and talk about God in break rooms and bars and driving around town late at night. But mostly, they talk, and sometimes when they’re finished, they tell me that a Christian has never before engaged with them on that topic and listened without condemning them, and I feel ashamed of how we Christians can be so unlike our Christ. As I read, it’s easy to remember specific conversations with people I care about and respect . . .

When Alyssa says she’s ashamed, it might sound like she’s passing judgment on the whole church. That isn’t where she’s coming from. In reverence for God, she recognizes that his name has been dishonored in the way some of her coworkers have been treated.

. . . but I’ve long wanted my friends who say, “I don’t know anyone who deals with that,” to have some way to listen to real people who struggle with the issues in the book.

Alyssa tells her churchgoing friends about these conversations. It’s all pretty foreign to them. She’s glad she can give them Quick to Listen now. Maybe it’ll help open their eyes to the hurting people (in their workplaces, schools, homes, and beyond) who need Christian friends with caring, listening ears; who need mercy; and who need to be welcomed back to Jesus.

I’ve only read the chapter on the LGBTQ community so far, and I’ve learned quite a lot already. I’m looking forward to the rest!

There is another reason Alyssa loves the book: it has strengthened her. It has grounded her compassion and friendliness even more firmly in the Word, tying it all the more closely to the gospel.

You can read a sample from the book here. I pray that Quick to Listen might be a blessing to your sheep and to their neighbors through them.

Your servant,

Pastor Christopher S. “Topher” Doerr
Garden Homes Lutheran Church, Milwaukee, Wisconsin