Church as we know it has changed drastically over the last few years.
Churches have also recently seen more and more people dealing with marriages under stress, increasing addictions, growing anxiety, and loneliness. Many have experienced job loss and financial distress; students are uncertain in school; graduates are wondering when they’ll be able to find a job.
How can churches help in times like these?
Now more than ever, the ability of churches to care for the individual, not just the masses, has become critical in the fulfillment of the Great Commission. We must learn to more fully and effectively care for those around us.
The Power of Simple Conversation
We often like to think of Jesus roaming a peaceful countryside, performing miracles, and praying with His disciples in tranquility. However, Jesus’ earthly ministry took place during a season of political oppression, racial unrest, the spreading of contagious diseases, and corrupt church leaders. Knowing that His ministry on earth was riddled with these circumstances should encourage us and teach us that we can have effective conversations like Christ in our current context. Jesus spoke with a compassionate boldness that engaged his listeners with life-changing truths.
Let’s examine the purpose and outcome of some of the recorded conversations of Christ:
- Comforting – Entering into our pain with Compassion
- Redemptive – Entering into our past with Restoration
- Teaching – Entering into our inexperience with Wisdom
- Hopeful – Entering into our despair with Faith
- Correcting – Entering into our foolishness with Wisdom
- Gospel – Entering into our greatest need with Jesus
- Reconciling – Entering into our conflict with Peacemaking
- Sustaining – Entering into our weariness with Companionship
This list is by no means exhaustive, but as you read through the stories in the gospels, you see these patterns displayed in the conversations and encounters recorded. So why were the stories of Jesus given to us, and how do they benefit us? In order to fully benefit from the recorded encounters with Christ, we must look at them through two different lenses.
Lense #1 – Christ’s stories remind us that we need what Christ offers us through Him.
When we feel hopeless and in despair, the heart of Christ invites us to trust Him. He offers us everything we truly need for a healthy life and mind. So many contradictory voices in our culture try to tell us what we need, but the stories of Jesus were given to show us that through Him we have everything we need.
Lense #2 – Others need what Christ offers them through us.
All Christ-followers are called upon to represent the heart of Christ and share His heart with others. He modeled for us the kinds of conversations that we are to have when facing a world in need and often in crisis. He sends us out on a mission to spread His message into the dark corners of injustice, unrest, disease, and confusion. His message brings transformation and hope through His eternal love that never fails.
How can I practically begin to have conversations that model Christ’s heart?
- Read through the book of Mark, noting the different types of conversations that Jesus modeled; reflect on your faith and how it needs to grow.
- Start with your family; practice deeper conversations with them about things that really matter, and help them trust God in this moment.
- Slow down and look around for those in need everywhere you go.
- Write notes of encouragement; notes are read and re-read with powerful impact.
- Buy some portable chairs to visit the isolated to sit and talk.
- Invest in some biblical counseling training to better care for hurting people that God brings your way.
Sometimes we can look at the world around us and feel a sense of overwhelming sadness. Things are not as they should be in our country or in the world. While it’s right to work to change the big problems, we can’t overlook the importance of ordinary, personal conversations.
Most of the days of Jesus’ ministry were filled with ordinary encounters with ordinary people, where He demonstrated extraordinary care and thoughtful conversations. In these conversations, people felt cherished, challenged, comforted, and corrected. If you would make it your goal to have more conversations like that in your day, God can make a difference through you.
P.S. At Biblical Counseling Center, we have “counseling conversations” every day in our offices, and we also train individuals and churches to have effective conversations within their everyday lives and churches.
If you would like to have better discipleship conversations, our biblical counseling training will help! The training is self-paced, online, and you can begin at any time of year. Read more about our training here!
Thank you for your exemplary ministries. We appreciate you!
Thank you for the excellent challenge! While as a biblical counselor we have these conversations every day with hurting people, I am personally challenged to be more alert to the everyday encounters with ordinary people that God puts in my path! I think sometimes in the busyness of life we overlook opportunities to be that salt and light that points others to the only TRUE and Eternal Hope for the cares of this life!
Thank you so much for this article. Many things have changed in these last 4 months, and there are things we are not able to do, but we can still have conversations – in person, by phone , text , even email. What a challenge to make these conversations count for comforting, teaching, reconciling, sharing hope and the gospel.
I am encouraged. We have a gang of young men and women who are interested in serving right now. This will give us ideas for how we can effetively touch the lives of those who are around us and admonish meaningfully. I love the portable chair idea. We rub shoulders with dear souls, let’s open our eyes and hearts and reach out. The photograph is heart stirring too. Thanks.