So What Should We Talk About?

“When saints do sleepy grow, let them come hither,
And hear how these two pilgrims talk together;
Yes, let them learn of them in any wise way,
To keep open their drowsy, slumbering eyes.
Saints’ fellowship, if it be managed well,
Keeps them awake and that in spite of hell.”

Christian from Pilgrim’s Progress – Page 162 [1]

Do you enjoy good conversation? Do you consider yourself or maybe know someone who is a good conversationalist?

It would be an understatement to say that humans are a chatty bunch. We may not get all our steps in or get enough sleep or eat all the right foods, but we definitely talk. On average, each one of us speaks approximately 16,000 words a day [2], and with 8 billion people in the world, that means there are 12,800,000,000,000,000 words spoken every day. This doesn’t even include all the texts, emails and online chatter we post each day.

This alone could be proof enough that we are unique spiritual beings among God’s creation with this capacity to formulate and articulate words. And evidently, words are very important to God. Jesus said we will all give an account one day for every careless word we’ve ever spoken.[3]

Maybe we should ask ourselves, “What is good conversation?” What is healthy conversation for Christian pilgrims and how do we avoid careless, unhealthy or destructive conversation?

The Bible has so much to say about our words and conversations but let’s look at just one verse in Ephesians 4:29 AMPC:

“Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it.”

As believers, God desires that every word we speak would be life-giving and serve to build people up – helping them in their spiritual progress, whether they follow Jesus yet or not.

In The Ninth Stage of the book, Pilgrim’s Progress, we see where Christian and Hopeful are on the homestretch in their spiritual journey. They’ve “progressed” so far and are almost at the Celestial City. To keep from tiring out and falling asleep at this stage, they begin a conversation that’s considered a blueprint for healthy Christian fellowship.

When Christian asks Hopeful what they should talk about, Hopeful says, “Why don’t we start with where God began with us?”

Which brings us to our first conversation topic:

1. Let’s engage in sharing our testimonies.

Our testimonies are more than just sharing our stories. Testimonies are the parts of our stories where we recognize God working in our hearts and lives. Something very powerful happens when we hear how God is working in someone.

In our small group gatherings, we sometimes call these “praise reports”, where we hear stories of answers to prayer or testimonies of God moving hearts.

When I hear part of someone’s testimony that I maybe hadn’t heard before, I’m so encouraged and filled with hope. There’s a sense that what God did for them, he can do for someone else – maybe even me.

In our Connect Course 201 class, we highlight our testimonies much the same way Hopeful does in his conversation with Christian where he shares:

  • How he came to where he is now – the emptiness of his life before Christ, how he came under conviction of sin, how his eyes opened to see truth.
  • How he came to Christ and who told him about Jesus.
  • The change in his life and how he’s a different person now.

Revelation 12:11 says we overcame the devil by the blood of Jesus and word of our testimony. [4] So let’s keep filling our conversations with testimonies.

2. Let’s engage in honest spiritual discussion.

When a pilgrim named Ignorance catches up to Christian and Hopeful, Christian asks, “My friend, how are you doing? How is your relationship between God and your soul?”

It’s so important and healthy to check in with each other as believers. How are we doing right now? How is our spiritual health today? This is normal healthy Christian conversation to be accountable to each other.

I love how Christian then brings up the most pertinent and urgent topic for the whole human race: How is your relationship between God and your soul?

This is a conversation that each Christian can and must have with everyone in our life. There might be hundreds of other interesting topics we could be discussing with other people, but nothing even comes close to the importance of this one.

If everyone’s relationship between God and their soul was reconciled, every problem, challenge and crisis in the world could be resolved.

While we might avoid some topics, this is the one essential for every believer and the whole Church that we must be laser focused on. Ignorance wanted to ignore this topic, but we can’t afford to.

One distinct marker of the Jesus People movement in early 70s was that they couldn’t stop talking about Jesus all the time. Everywhere they went, they asked people if they knew Jesus and if they experienced being born again. This is why people started calling them Jesus freaks.

When I first became a Christian, I was in many conversations where people would ask me, “Is there something else we could talk about now? Is Jesus the only thing you want to talk about?”

It might seem a little off balance if we can’t talk about anything but Jesus, but let’s recognize this wonderful sign of spiritual awakening when someone’s heart is fired up about the things of God and wants to talk about them.

The real red flag is when Christians gather, maybe in a casual setting, and not once does any meaningful conversation about Jesus come up. Whenever I’ve experienced this, I’ve always come away feeling a little empty and grieved.

As Pastor Dave often says, let’s keep our eyes (and our conversation) on the harvest and focus on people’s relationship between God and their souls.

3. Let’s engage in aligning with the Bible together.

At this stage, we see the conversation of our pilgrims focusing on scripture and coming into agreement with God’s Word. They re-emphasize how the Bible must be final authority in their lives and how it takes precedent over their own opinions or even the feelings in their heart.

As we give the Bible first place in our lives and our conversations, we keep each other sharp in our faith, helping bring course-correction on the journey when we need it.

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the truth, rebuking error, correcting faults, and giving instruction for right living, so that the person who serves God may be fully qualified and equipped to do every kind of good deed.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Our pilgrims show us a great example of having robust, in-depth conversation about the Bible and becoming skilled in their use of it. They even break down what looks like the inspiration for the Four Spiritual Laws [5] later coined by evangelist Bill Bright in the 1950s.

As we focus our conversations on our testimonies, on spiritual things and the condition of our souls – and on growing in our understanding of the Bible, we will find we have less room in our conversations for negativity, complaining, gossip or engaging in unhealthy or toxic topics.

What are some conversation starters?

For most of us the hardest part of having spiritual conversations is knowing where to begin. Here are just a few questions we could ask that might help reveal someone’s spiritual need and move a conversation toward Jesus:

  • Why do you think we have so much suffering and unrest in the world?
  • What do you feel about the need for people to have a personal faith?
  • Who has had the most significant impact in your life?
  • What have been some turning points in your life where you made significant changes?
  • If you could identify something, what would you say is missing in your life?
  • If you could ask God anything, what would it be?
  • If you could ask Christians anything, what would ask them?
  • What do you think happens when we die?
  • What is something I could pray for, for you?

Remember, as Christians we have the Holy Spirit as our Helper so as you step out to have these conversations, you may sense Him giving you a thought or question to ask in that moment – just for that person!

Enjoy the Journey!