How to Listen to Spiritual Stories from People Outside Your Congregation

This breakthrough practice helps you deepen relationships with your neighbors by listening to their spiritual stories.
Spiritual stories

This breakthrough practice helps you deepen relationships with your neighbors by listening to their spiritual stories.


This practice is for congregations that have developed capacity to listen to each others’ spiritual stories. (Does your congregation need experience learning to do this? Try Why Jesus, our spiritual storytelling practice.) Once congregation members have learned to listen attentively to spiritual stories, it might be time to listen to the spiritual stories of those outside the congregation.


Studies from Pew Research reveal that fewer people in our culture turn to faith to help them make meaning of their lives. It’s important for Christian leaders and everyday disciples to learn to help people connect their lived experiences to God’s movement in the world.

Outcomes of this practice include:

  • More confidence speaking openly about faith
  • Deeper connections to neighbors
  • Discernment of God’s presence in daily life


  1. Identify a group of people you can invite to share spiritual stories. One excellent idea is to identify a ministry with which your church is already involved. For example, one congregation decided to bring this practice into a ministry they had with women experiencing homelessness.
  2. Plan a gathering to share this practice. Or, you might use an existing gathering or event that takes place in the regular rhythms of your ministry. Food is always a great way to make folks comfortable!
  3. Divide into groups of two or three. Create a hand-out with questions such as, “Where do you find beauty in your life? Share an experience when you sensed the presence of God or the divine. When have you felt deeply loved and accepted?” Invite each group member share their answers to these questions.
  4. You don’t have to do a formal event. Teach church members to listen deeply wherever they are. Encourage them to ask these questions when they’re serving alongside someone in ministry or getting to know a new neighbor.


Download a PDF of this infographic that walks you through the entire practice.

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