Sunday, August 24, 2008

"Let's give 'em somethin to talk about..."

Earlier this week, I had a very uninteresting phone conversation with my father. We exchanged the usual pleasantries: "how are things, blah blah blah." In spite of the many lackluster conversations we've had before, I was surprised at just how mundane this conversation was for the following reasons:
1) We hadn't spoken in months and
2) He had a dramatic event occur at work recently
As I am wont to do, I answered all his inquiries about my life with brazen honesty. I shared about the joys in my life and the concerns of my heart. I opened my heart to him, thinking that the point of our rare conversations was to know and encourage each other better. He is, after all, my Dad. Needless to say I was pretty disappointed when my inquiries about his life were answered with a brief, vague monologue which was quickly followed by the all-too-familiar "I'll let you go..." and then silence. Considering that my Dad was pretty uninvolved throughout my childhood, I'm grateful for the occasional, albeit dissatisfying phone conversation. Even so, my "decidedly distant" relationship with my father got me thinking about conversations, especially conversations with fellow believers.

My mind immediately went to church. Some of the most meaningless conversations I've ever had have taken place at a church on Sunday. We all know know the social rules and we follow the format with very little deviation:
"How are you?"
"Good, how are you?"
"Fine, thanks."
"Great! See you later!"
Call me crazy, but I don't think we should let each other get away with that. It is truly unfortunate that that western conversational mores don't allow for deep, personal interaction in most social scenes, apparently including at church. I understand that certain boundaries must be maintained for the sake of promoting good conversation. For example, there is a difference between sharing concerns and just plain whining. Conversational manners are important to a degree. I mean, I would be pretty thrown off if an acquaintance replied to my "How are you?" with "I've been really constipated this week."
The point is that Scripture gives Christians instructions on how to converse "...encourage one another and build each other up..." 1 Thes. 5:11 and what to converse about- "rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn..." Romans 12:15. I'm afraid that all too often we let pleasantries suffice. As members of the body of Christ, we have some seriously great conversation material at our disposal. Our conversations with other Christians should relfect the intimate bond we have through our faith.

1 comment:

Coffee Snob said...


Thanks for bringing this issue up. It's near to something that's been on my mind a lot lately: the need for deeper, more meaningful relationships. All too often I allow myself those same shallow conversations - at work, at church, even at home.

As an elder, I should be close enough to the families under my care that I know some details of their lives - tho' not every last one. I fear that I have a long way to go in developing those relationships.