I recently came across a Ligonier article titled "Congregational Discourse". I highly recommend that you read it and ponder the conversations in your local church.
How are you contributing to the discussions that happen there? Are your conversations just shooting the breeze, talking about sports, discussing politics and the pandemic, and complaining? Are you intentionally speaking to encourage and edify the believers around you?
As you're reading these questions you may be tempted to bristle and think, "This guy's being legalistic! The Bible doesn't say we can't fellowship and talk about real life at church!". I’m not saying we shouldn't be able to have open and honest conversations about life. It's not a sin to talk about high school football or the Kentucky Derby. However, do you ever spend time "teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom" (Col. 3:16)?
It's easy to think this is the pastor's job, but "one another" puts the ball in your court, too. It’s the responsibility of every believer to contribute to the good of the church through godly conversation and encouragement.
If you're spending time with other believers outside of the corporate gathering on Sunday morning, then you're probably talking about the Word of God and how it intersects everyday life. That would allow for some casual talk on Sunday morning. It may also stir you to more godly conversation about the events of the previous week.
But imagine the impact we could have on an unbeliever if they heard us rejoicing about Jesus’ work in our lives and sharing the Word with one another on Sunday morning. They'd be able to truly look in and say, "Wow! They really love Jesus! He's all they can talk about!". Instead of simply being wowed by the pastor’s handling of the Word, they’d be encouraged by “normal” Christians, too.
Imagine our children or a new Christian hearing us talk about Jesus week after week. They would see us living out what we are teaching them! It has been said that more is caught than taught. While there may be some flaws in that statement, we should strive to be Christians worth imitating—especially in our conversations.
This godly discourse could also be preparing our hearts for the songs we are about to sing, the sermon we are about to hear, the Lord's Supper we are about to take, or the week we are about to live.
As a younger man, I would love to have an older believer drop a practical nugget of wisdom on me moments before corporate worship or just after hearing the sermon. It would be a blessing to hear an older woman drop a gem of parenting knowledge on my wife and I. I'd love to hear a zealous young believer share how God is using the M'Cheyne Bible reading plan to shape his days throughout the week.
In the words of Dr. Mark E. Ross: "This is the 'buzz' that should be heard in our congregational discourse. Will it be heard in your church this coming Lord's Day? Will the word of Christ be dwelling among you richly, or just barely?"