Raising up believers to maturity in Christ is a daunting task. It’s only possible due to the Spirit’s enlivening and sanctifying work. But beloved, be encouraged in the task. The Lord uses more than the scheduled events, the carefully planned sessions, and the lovingly crafted sermons. He’s also ordained ordinary Christian speech as a means to maturity in Christ.
Language learning is a time-intensive activity, and language students sometimes dread those long hours of concentrated study, when their head is down in a book or they’re sitting in a language class. They forget they’re also learning the language when, in a foreign nation, they listen to the radio, watch cartoons with their kids, or enjoy conversations with the old men at the post office. None of those are intensely focused opportunities, but they count as exposure nonetheless, and a language student can be intentional with them.
In Praise of Christian Conversations
Most Christians—and dare I say, pastors—fall into a similar error when it comes to Christian discipleship. We count the big stuff. The things we can put in our calendar. And because we neglect to notice the myriad small discipling moments, we neglect to utilize them. We overlook the value of ordinary, brief, Christian conversations.
Pastor, consider how many brief interactions do you normally have in those 20 to 30 minutes at the back door after your sermon? What questions do you hear? What situations do you learn about? Who do you get to care for, just a few minutes before they walk into their week?
In such moments, I learn a marriage is in trouble. I counsel a brother whose boss pressured him to lie to a client. I apologize to a member I offended by some careless word. I usually meet many non-Christians there. It’s a vital time.
Now multiply my handful of interactions throughout the rest of our members. How many conversations happen in that room? And you know what? In every single interaction, there’s an opportunity for Christians to influence one another, for the gospel to be conveyed and clarified and applied. These opportunities aren’t typically impressive or even memorable—but they’re cumulatively significant.
Now, I’m certainly not claiming that these conversations are always deeply spiritual. That’s not the case in my congregation, and it’s probably not the case in yours. Odds are, many of them are about the game last night, or the game that’s about to start, or just a repeat of the same conversation that happened last week and will happen against next week: “How are you?” “Busy. You?” “Same.”
I want to make two assertions about these conversations: they’re more significant than we think, and they can become even more significant than we think.
A passing comment can have an enduring influence on someone’s life.