The coordinate clap (active listening)

Jesus said, “Whoever has ears, let him hear.” (See Matthew 13:9, Matthew 13:43, Mark 4:9, Mark 4:23, Luke 8:8, Luke 14:35, Revelation 2:7, Revelation 2:11, Revelation 3:6, Revelation 3:13, Revelation 13:9). Here’s a modern interpretation of this statement.

In coaching, a strategy that is often used for large groups, such as an end of day review at a basketball camp or a team meeting in football, is what I refer to here as the coordinated clap. The coach says, “Give me two claps,” and the group/team responds by clapping two times in unison. If the claps are not together, then the instruction is repeated. This sequence is completed several times to fully establish the group’s attention by varying the number of claps:

“Two claps.” Crisp pop-pop. “Three claps.” Pop-pop-pop. “One clap.” Pop. “Nice work. Let’s begin.”


I imagine Jesus using the same tactic at the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).

  • Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. One clap.
  • Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Two claps.
  • Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Two claps.

Here is my challenge to you. When you read the Bible or listen to a pastor’s teaching, take this same active listening posture. If you have ears, then hear! Engage your mind and body fully in God’s word and see how God speaks to you.


About Tony Schmitz

Tony Schmitz received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Temple University in 1993, his MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1996, and his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1999. He is a mechanical engineering professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
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