Moving Beyond Small Talk | The New Normal

By Jonathan Moseley

I suppose you might have opened this thinking I don’t believe in small talk. By this, I mean topics that are trivial in importance, uncontroversial, and light in their matter of urgency. Small talk has its benefits—it’s great at bringing ease to two strangers; it helps engage those who might naturally be more reserved; it can lead to finding common points of interest. So, I’m not denying its place. But while small talk can be beneficial, if we stay only there, we remain superficial. We were not made for small things. We were made for big things, and this should influence our conversations.

Why Neglect What We Most Need?

As Paul writes letters to provide spiritual direction, he’s constantly bringing the churches back to Jesus and the gospel. To the church at Colossae, he says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16). He exhorts the church at Ephesus to “[Address] one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart” (Ephesians 5:19). He instructs the church at Philippi, “Whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” And he continues, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the peace of God will be with you” (Philippians 3:8-9). If Christ is to be magnified among Christians, he must be hoped in, talked about, sung to, and admired with our words. If words about Christ are absent, we cannot follow Paul's direction.

Paul knows exactly what man needs: beautiful and precious truths of the Gospel that fill the starving soul, that fan the flames of faith, that renew and transform the mind, and that expand the heart to love. Talking about the weather or one’s favorite sports team won’t get you there. But Jesus will. Why forsake the greatest subject in the universe, the source of all life, the anchor for all reality, the fulfillment of all our hopes and dreams for something else in our conversations? Jesus is not a killjoy--he is the fountain of true and lasting joy. For our soul’s sake, for our faith’s sake, for our mind’s sake, for our heart’s sake, Renewal is seeking to bring Jesus to where he belongs: the dead center of our time together.  This may seem forced at first—it may even expose our inconsistencies at not seeking him, or reveal the idols that we’d rather enjoy in our conversing more than Christ. But below are questions we are calling the “New Normal” that I want you to ask me when I see you and I will be sure to ask you. In this, we will be intentional together at treasuring Christ.

How do you sense God encouraging, guiding, and convicting you through the Word?

What about God are you enjoying?

What are you praying to God for that I can join you in?

Jonathan Moseley is the Director of Community and Operations at Renewal Church.