Christian Conversation (2)
Welcome to the PMF Workshop for March, 2023. I’m your host, T. M. Moore. Each month we provide teaching, encouragement, activities, and resources to help you in working your Personal Mission Field so that you can become more consistent and effective in realizing the presence, promise, and power of God’s Kingdom in your daily life.
This month’s Workshop is Part 2 in a series on conversation, one of the key disciplines we use in working our Personal Mission Field. Conversation, as we have seen, is a learned art, but we must be willing to learn it. And, as with any effective learning program, a certain amount of practice is required. But what should we practice to become more conversational? That’s the question we’ll address in this month’s workshop, which is entitled, “Becoming Conversational.” Our text is Luke 2.46, 47: “Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting amid the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.”
Jesus and conversation
Jesus was an excellent conversationalist all His life, as we see from this earliest example. He was able to engage those who had much more formal learning than He did. He listened well, asked good questions, and gave carefully formulated answers and explanations. He was firm, but not argumentative. Even during His ministry Jesus did not argue with people; He simply told them the truth in plain language.
It seems clear from our text that, at this early stage in His life, Jesus understood the importance of using conversations effectively for the cause of His Kingdom. As He continued to grow in favor with God and men (Lk. 2.52), we can be sure that improving His skills at conversation was high on His list of areas for growth.
Becoming a Christian conversationalist will mean, in part, that we begin to be more like Jesus in our ability to talk with others in ways that keep their attention, earn their respect, and lead them into the Presence of God. That doesn’t mean that every person with whom we speak will be head-over-heels happy to have had a conversation with us. Hardly! Jesus made some people furious because of His conversations. Not because He wasn’t gracious, but because He was true.
But becoming conversational Christians will mean that our speech will be sufficiently considerate, consistent, clear, and excellent so that others will respect and appreciate what we have to say. If we can realize these qualities for our conversations, what we say – and how we say it – can be a powerful tool in helping many to experience the Presence and glory of God.
Consideration, consistency, clarity, and excellence: This is a good summary of the criteria we must follow and the standards we hope to achieve as Christian conversationalists.
In our conversations we must be considerate of the views of others, listening attentively, asking questions, and affirming or disagreeing respectfully. If we will work hard at learning to listen well and at becoming consistent, clear, and excellent conversationalists, there will be no shortage of people willing to engage with us.
As for consistency, we want to learn to use the language properly. The best way to become a good conversationalist is to read widely and pay attention to the ways good writers use language. Take up journaling on a regular basis. “Writing maketh the exact man,” Sir Francis Bacon reminds us. This will also improve your conversational skills and develop consistency in your speech, because by writing in complete sentences, consistently over time, you will learn to think and speak in complete sentences as well.
Practice conversation often, especially with your fellow believers. Work on your vocabulary and the tone, pace, and inflection of your voice, and you’ll be on your way to meaningful consistency in speech in no time. If we don’t pay attention to such details, how will we ever be able to bring them into the light of God’s glory?
Clarity relates to the subject matter of our speech. We should take an interest in the interests of others, in the world of creation and culture, and in the issues and events of the day. Read widely, think carefully, and pray often about such matters, until they become working parts in your repertoire of topics for conversation.
Then concentrate on practicing the highest quality of conversation. Strive for excellence in talking with others. Excellence always begins in being a considerate and good listener. Avoid trivialities and vulgarities; look people in the eye as you speak; ask questions and affirm contributions to the conversation, speak in complete sentences.
Work at it
Consideration of others, together with consistency, clarity, and excellence in all our speech can establish a powerful framework for talking with others in a way that honors them and glorifies God.
We must think about such matters, pray about them, be alert to how other writers and speakers use words, and, yes, practice our conversational skills in each of these areas. We can improve the discipline and art of Christian conversation, but we’ll have to work at it. And the more we work at it, the more the work we do in our Personal Mission Field will allow us to spread the grace of God to others (2 Cor. 4.15).
Here are some activities you can practice and some resources to help you in working your Personal Mission Field.
- First make sure your Personal Mission Field is updated, and you have included in your Personal Mission Field worksheet any new people God has brought into your sphere. Keep your map with you, so you can take it out and pray for the people you’ll be seeing throughout the day.
- Make an appoint to have a conversation with a fellow believer. When you get together, make your friend the focus of your conversation. Practice being considerate, consistent, clear, and excellent as you talk about whatever comes up.
- Have a conversation with God about each person in your Personal Mission Field. Take your time. Talk and listen. Talk out loud. Let your conversation with God help to train you in becoming a better conversationalist.
- Continue making a point to speak to every person in your Personal Mission Field as often as the opportunity arises. Greet them by name. Ask about their wellbeing. Make a “word connection” that can serve as a first plank in the next conversation that will bridge between you.
- Order a free copy of our book, Revived!, and discover how you can help bring revival, renewal, and a great awakening about Jesus to our troubled world. Learn more about this book and order your free copy by clicking here.
That’s it for this month’s Personal Mission Field Workshop. Until next month, for the Fellowship of Ailbe, this has been T. M. Moore.
We ask the Lord to move and enable many more of our readers to provide for the needs of our ministry. Please seek Him in prayer concerning your part in supporting our work. You can contribute online by using the Contribute button at the website; or you can send a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.