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Are We Listening?

Different types of hearing

by Helen Redfern (revised, originally published in 2005)

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To reflect upon hearing Gods message and good messages in general.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need some sound effects for the students to guess. You could prepare them yourself or use the YouTube video, ‘Guess the Sound game’, in which case you will also need the means to show it during the assembly. It is 4.57 minutes long and is available at:

    The answers are available at: Sound Effects Answers

    Optional: you may wish to provide pens and paper for the students to write down their answers for the game.

  • You will also need the Bible passage Mark 7.31-7.

  • Note: this assembly should be approached with care and sensitivity because there may be students present who have hearing impairment or loss.

  • Further information about the National Deaf Children’s Society is available at:


  1. Isn’t it great to be able to hear? To listen to our favourite band or be moved by the emotion of a love song, to be woken up by the birds in the trees, to spend hours talking with friends on our mobiles?

  2. Imagine not being able to hear, though: you may know people who are partially or completely deaf. (Please be sensitive to students present.) They live a wonderful and complete life without the gift of hearing; many of them with enhanced senses in other areas. However, the gift of hearing is something amazing and precious.

  3. Many of us take being able to hear for granted, but just how good are we at recognizing music or sounds, even ones that we hear every day?

  4. Explain that you are going to play some sounds and you want the students to guess what they are. If possible, give each student or small group of students a piece of paper and a pen to record their answers. Alternatively, divide the room into sections and ask for a couple of volunteers from each section to come to the front and act as team representatives. They can decide together on an answer and write it down. Please note that the sounds come in quick succession, so the students wont be able to deliberate for very long!

    Show the YouTube video, ‘Guess the Sound game’ and have the answers to hand.

  5. Read the Bible passage Mark 7.31–7.

    In this Bible story, Jesus was able to restore the hearing of a man who was desperate to hear. How amazing! The man must have been ecstatic. Jesus told the crowd not to tell anyone about it, but how could they stay quiet? They had seen a miracle!

  6. So far, we have only thought about one type of hearing. Sometimes, it is possible to hear something happening, but not really listen to it. We might be aware that our parents or a teacher are telling us something, but we are not really listening or hearing – we have absolutely no idea what they said! Alternatively, we might be having a conversation with our friends and be distracted by something else so that we don’t listen at all.

  7. The Bible also talks about hearing in our hearts. As we go through our lives, it is hearing through our hearts that will have more impact on ourselves and those around us. Listening to other people and caring enough to try to understand the message that they are trying to convey will make a huge difference to them.

Time for reflection

Deciding which voices in our lives are worth listening to is also important. We have all received criticism and unfortunately, too many of us have had people saying unkind things to us. We need to make choices as to what we will believe about ourselves and other people. We need to learn to follow constructive advice without feeling insulted. However, we also need to learn that not everything that is said to us is helpful. This is sometime called spiritual hearing.

Read the following poem, which is based on the Bible passage Luke 8.11–15.


Sometimes, we need to hear a friendly voice,
But all our ears can hear is criticism, angry words, name-calling.
We harden our hearts and cannot hear special words of love and acceptance.
Listen to love.
They who have ears to hear, let them hear.

Sometimes, we need some good advice,
but all our ears can hear is conflicting opinions, the easy option, tempting distractions.
We harden our hearts and cannot hear right words of truth and guidance.
Listen to what is right.
They who have ears to hear, let them hear.

They who have ears to hear, let them hear love.
They who have ears to hear, let them hear what is right.
They who have ears to hear, let them hear words of life.
They who have ears to hear, let them hear.

Dear God,
Thank you for the gift of hearing.
Help us not to take it for granted, but to enjoy all that sounds so beautiful in the world around us.
Help us to remember those who cannot hear; help us to show consideration.
Thank you for their courage.
Please show us how the ears of our hearts can hear good and helpful advice.
Please help our ears to be open to your care and guidance.


You say’ by Lauren Daigle, available at: (4.30 minutes long)

Publication date: October 2019   (Vol.21 No.10)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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