November 1, 1987 Issue
Raymond Fox

Approximately seven percent of the population in the United States has a notable hearing loss that affects to some degree their ability to communicate in this world of sound and speech. This percentage is easily represented in many of our congregations by members who have suffered a hearing loss for various reasons, including advancing years, a noisy workplace, or other physical causes.


Of course there have always been members of the body of Christ who are hard of hearing and perhaps this is the reason why we have always taken for granted the problem without addressing it with a remedy. In any community of people, communication is what binds the members of that community together. When communication is restricted or inhibited in some manner, the strength of the community weakens. This fact is especially true in the body of Christ. The strength with which the body functions is directly dependent on our communication.

When brothers and sisters in the body of Christ are hard of hearing they suffer much, sometimes without even realizing what they are missing and sometimes painfully understanding their plight. Because conversation can be difficult or even a struggle with a hard of hearing person, those who can hear well unknowingly ostracize the hard of hearing by only briefly speaking to them instead of spending time understanding them and encouraging them in the Christian life. The silent world of the hard of hearing can be a lonely world.

Too, the very grounds of our worship as the body of Christ is based on communication. Everything we practice in worship depends on adequate communication. If the prayers cannot be heard, then an amen cannot be said. If the song numbers are not plainly announced, there is confusion and frustration instead of praise. If the teaching of Gods Word is without clarity and force, the bread of life cannot be received. A problem is serious when it affects the spirit and truth of our worship.


Those who can hear have an ability, a blessing, that they can use to minister to those who cannot hear well. You can take the time to bring the hard of hearing person into active participation in the body of Christ by seriously communicating with them. Whether you must talk more slowly, pronounce your words more clearly or even write your message down, you will provide an essential service to the body of Christ by simply talking to someone who is hard of hearing.

Congregational leaders and teachers must take seriously their responsibilities to the hard of hearing members of the congregation. We pay special regard to building comfortable places of worship. Yet if a number of our members cannot hear well enough to participate in worship services, then our efforts have not been success ful. There are many devices now on the market that can be installed in buildings such as ours to insure that the hard of hearing will not suffer exclusion from worship. Teachers can help by talking more slowly, more clearly, and more forcefully. Writing the main points and Scripture references on the board is also a great advantage. If the hard of hearing person knows the context of a lesson, he can understand the speech much more effectively. Song leaders too can write the song numbers on the chalkboard.


One phenomenon of hearing loss is that it often progresses so slowly that the person does not realize how much they are actually missing. But unconsciously they begin to gradually retreat into a world of non-communication. What follows is apathy and apathy is a most dangerous condition because it affects ones spiritual health. To counteract this apathy, the hard of hearing person must realize they have a right to worship and to communicate with their brethren. Further more the hard, of hearing person must express himself. Tell the teachers and tell the brethren you cannot hear what they are saying. If they do not take your complaint seriously, tell them again. Your spiritual welfare depends on it.

The hard of hearing person must also do what he or she can to better their ability to hear. Sitting on the front row in worship can make a surprising difference for many. Others may need a device to assist them in hearing. Hearing devices are constantly being improved to enhance their effectiveness. If you have tried one before and it did not work, try a different model. Often pride or an unwillingness to admit a hearing loss is an obstacle to purchasing a hearing device. Of the people in the United States that have a hearing loss, nearly sixty percent of those who could be helped by a hearing device, do not use one. You must realize how important hearing is in your Christian life.


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