The Value of Good Conversation

It’s been brought to my attention that I use the word “conversation” a lot.  If you don’t believe me, check out the latest communication video from the Free Methodist Church in Canada where I talk about our new Regional Coaches. I probably say it more than I should.

I use the word often because I believe in the value of conversation. In a world where much of what passes for dialogue involves yelling, entrenchment and dismissive attitudes (in everything from sports debates to political discourse to unfortunately church world “discussion”) I believe we need to slow down and have good conversation around things that matter.  Much of what ends up causing complications in my life stems from a lack of good thoughtful conversation or a refusal to engage in meaningful conversation.  This is true for both the stuck church trying to live out its God given mission and vision as well as for individuals who have had a relational breach.

I believe there is real power in sitting down and actually talking things through. Ideas are sparked that might not have otherwise been sparked and existing ideas are improved.  In good conversation, questions are asked that help clarify and bring understanding, plans are refined and ultimately made better.  Good conversation also fosters a sense of unity as we seek to understand and not just have our voices heard. These are all things we need in our churches and in our everyday lives, as we evaluate and plan how to move forward and also how build and repair relationships.

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It does occur to me however, that I need to be clear on what I am advocating.  When I say we (people and churches) need to have better conversations, here is what I mean:

  • Good conversations are bathed in prayer. If we are going to be talking about important things we need to make sure we have prayed about the issue, for the each other and for our own hearts, minds and attitudes.  It would serve us well to also pray for wisdom and grace so that we represent our Heavenly Father well in any conversation.
  • Good conversations mean that we are listening, not just talking. So often we are so invested in winning or getting our point across that we fail to listen.  Too often we engage in monologues when we should be in conversation.
  • Good conversations require a Godly attitude. This is the work of God displayed in our lives in how we say what we say.  How we give and receive feedback, our attitudes and how we talk and listen is evidence of the Fruit of the Spirit being lived out in us and that is something we should all strive for.
  • It can’t all just be about good conversations. While I believe it is good to talk about things, eventually we need to do something.  I have seen churches where all they have done is talk.  Nothing happens.  And that’s not healthy.  Our conversations need to lead to action, to mission, to reconciliation, to something.

We need good conversations.  Church leaders need to be asking and wrestling through good questions and then acting on the answers, so that the church can be all that God has called it to be.  Small groups and accountability partners need to be finding ways to talk through how to understand, apply and live out the truth of Scripture together.  Those in relational breaches need to open the door to conversations that lead to healing and wholeness.  I hope you have lots of good conversations that lead to God honoring action this month.

Marc McAlister
Leadership Development Director, the Free Methodist Church in Canada.