“Yeah I’m starting to get kinda hungry for that. Pastor’s sermons on the purpose of the church were pretty convincing. But to be honest, I’ve watched you teach those kids in Sunday school. And that’s what has really whet my appetite. You’re amazing!” Rich was responding to Heather’s question about getting more involved in the church where they had been attending.
“Rich, I’m so glad to hear that. I hope that after we’re married our church family will continue to be a significant theme of our lives,” encouraged Heather.
Rich had been thinking about this for a few days and so he pushed forward with more than a little interest. “Here’s the problem. I wanna serve, but I’m not you. I’m just not gifted like you are to work with those kids.”
“No, no—we don’t have to do the same things,” assured Heather. “We’ll both be contributing no matter what specifically you decide to do.”
“Well sure—but that’s only a little help. They’ve got that sign-up thing in the church foyer. I actually looked over the list yesterday. And I’ll admit that there are a lot of different kinds of ways can be involved. But I just don’t know what I’ve got to offer or where I fit.”
Heather saw the note of discouragement but was just happy about the general direction of the conversation. “Don’t worry, we’ll figure it out. I’m sure you can try different things before really settling in. In the meantime . . . .”
Heather’s eye got a little wide and Rich knew she was having one of her big ideas. “Uh huh. Go ahead—I see you’re going to anyway,” he said smiling.
“Well, I was reading this verse from Colossians about speaking to each other in songs and spiritual songs. I’m not sure exactly what that looks like. But what do you think of this? It got me thinking that everybody’s primary ministry to other people is going to be in conversation.”
Rich was curious, but not quite tracking with Heather yet. “Go on, I’m not quite sure where you’re going with this.”
Heather happily obliged. “Maybe I’m a good teacher. And that may be somewhat unique. But I’ve noticed that the best moments in the classroom are in simple talks with the kids. And more than that, when class is over, so is my ‘teacher’ role. But I’m still having conversations all over the church.” She was warming to this idea even as she talked it out. “Even if you sign up on that list to do something really concrete and physical—say trimming the trees in the church yard—the job gets done and you go back to regular interactions with people.”
Rich thought he was catching on. “Sure, no matter what you ‘sign up for,’ it’s only a small part of your church life.”
“Right! And what is the other part? The big part? The part that’s not a specific job to do? It doesn’t have a job title, but it’s conversation isn’t it!?”
Rich chuckled. “Alright, I’m with you that far. But where is this going? How does this help me figure out how to serve the church?”
“I’m not exactly sure,” admitted Heather. “But I think we can both start valuing simple interactions more. We could try to be sensitive to the Spirit’s guidance in conversations. We could try to develop skill in conversations that really help the people we talk with in their Christian faith. You know what I mean?—make these ever-present conversations really serve the Lord.”
“Okay, I’m in,” said Rich, who realized that at the very least he was off the hook for immediately signing up for diaper duty. I’m already pretty good at shootin’ the breeze. Let’s take it to the next level. Maybe conversations are the greatest opportunity to show Christian love that we have!”
The story of us all:
Wherever followers of Jesus gather there is fellowship of a shared Savior, shared purpose and shared values. The dynamic of this fellowship is a sense of community in the love of Jesus. We must never underestimate the value of our conversations in expressing this edifying love for one another.
One important Scripture:
Colossians 3:16 (ESV) 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Your own story: You’ve heard Heather’s story, you know the story of us all. Now, let’s talk!
Ask someone: What do you think makes for a really good conversation?
Our small group is a great time for conversation. We share spiritual thoughts and life experiences. This also makes it easier to have conversations afterward on more than a superficial basis.
Tandy also likes Deb’s Bible study for learning and conversations.
A conversation that is truly loving requires us to listen to what the other person is saying. It is all too easy to ask how someone is doing and then just move on to someone else. It is also meaningful to remember what someone said earlier and to ask them later as to how things are now going.
I agree. Relationships deepen from time spent this way. However, Stepping outside my comfort zone and talking to people that I don’t know has always been something I’ve had to practice. Admittedly it doesn’t always go well. But it’s worth it when it does. I’m getting better slowly.
I am not a gifted conversationalist. I much prefer to sit and listen to others talk rather than engaging in dialogue. I’m sure much of that is my personality, but I wonder how much is the result of not pursuing a discipline of conversational exercise. Yes, there are many people who appear to be gifted in that way, but I do think you can learn to be good at it. It may not always come easy. To me, a truly gifted conversationalist is someone who develops the dialogue into a two-sided interaction rather than an awkward drawn out inquisition. These are the people who are fun to talk with!
I remember my mother's often repeated criticism of group Bible study: I don't want to be in a Bible study where people just pool their ignorance. That led us into a church experience where Scripture was explained by an "expert" but never discussed. I have come a long way in valuing what every person has to contribute to understanding. Yes, a dedicated, experienced student of God's Word has a unique contribution to make in understanding what God intended. However, we all bring experiences that broaden our understanding of the truth as it enriches and informs our lives. This ministry happens throughout the life of the church--at scheduled places and times, but also in spontaneous interactions. I've been blessed numerous times by ordinary ministers of the gospel who would not have thought of themselves that way!