When we are with other Christians, we should purposely plan on turning the conversation to spiritual things. One way is to ask specific questions about the sermon or about what God is doing in someone’s life. On the other hand, we shouldn’t think that every time of fellowship has to be directly focused on a chapter and verse from the Bible.
How do you encourage edifying talk among Christians before and after church? I'll say one thing briefly, and then you guys follow up. I recently preached at our church a message on redeeming the tongue, and the importance for Christians to view our speech in a biblical way. And how important that is. Ephesians 4:29 says, "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but such as is edifying, that it might minister grace to the hearers." And one of the applications in the message was purposely plan on turning the conversation when you're with other Christians to spiritual things. There's nothing in and of itself wrong with commenting about the New England Patriots or the Dallas Cowboys. Nothing wrong with that. But Christians shouldn't tarry on earthly things. And I think I am too often guilty of this. I don't get on to spiritual things. So the way I suggest for people to do that around the lunch table with believers or in small groups or you're having fellowship, once you've said, "how's your week been?" or "how are things going?" or "how's your family?" Can you share something the Lord's been doing in your life lately? Has something in the Scriptures this week encouraged you? What did you get most out of that sermon we just heard? See the questions that can just open up spiritual conversation? That's the way you do it. The whole approach to the Lord's Day, I think can be given a higher priority for all of us - even in our preparation. One of the things that a lot of people have the understanding of is that if you're not preaching, you come and you're just an observer of it. But the way the Scripture's talk is that when the saints are gathered together you're a participant. And one of the ways you're a participant is the fellowship of the saints before service, after service, at a meal time, should be viewed in the context of this gathering of the saints. And during this context, we're to be using our gifts to be building up and edifying one another. So maybe just the whole approach to that. All that being said, let me also share one other thing. Let's be careful. I've also run into people who when we're sitting around a fellowship table if the Bibles aren't open and we're not quoting chapter and verse, someone deems us unspiritual. And listen, we live in very mundane aspects of living that is part of our life. It doesn't mean that if we don't quote a verse that it's not a thought unto Christ though. So don't also become that person that says well, if it's not chapter and verse, I don't want anything to do with you guys. Listen, so much of our life is not chapter and verse. But even the mundane aspects of Christian living - changing a diaper - we can do it unto the glory of God though, right? Paul says you eat and drink to the glory of God, so there is going to be conversation that's not chapter and verse, but as Christians, we should be working those things towards an understanding and viewing them in light of the Gospel and the Kingdom of God. So let's not go out and slay everyone if they don't have their Bibles open. But let's understand the purpose of the gathering of the saints is to build up and edify one another, and the way we do that is by the Gospel and sharing with one another. A good example that our church has so many young families that have a lot of young children. New babies, two, three, four, five, six year old. And the mother's that get together, they have a lot in common to talk about. But it would be falling short if sharing those burdens: how do you do this and that? And how are you getting him to sleep ten hours a night? Please show me. That discussion is wonderful and that's part of the support of the body of Christ, but if you only camp out on that, and you never spiritually encourage each other, you're stopping short of what real fellowship can be and should be. Thanks for the wonderful questions.