In My Web is a series of short blog posts about articles that stuck out to me online.
Article: “Church Small Talk Was More Important Than I Thought” by Megan Hill for The Gospel Coalition
After almost a year of life in a COVID world, it’s good to step back and consider what has changed in our lives and what is still missing. While I’m so grateful to have been able to gather with my church family in-person for months now, Megan Hill’s recent Gospel Coalition article reminded me that not everything is as it once was. It seems one of the chief casualties in church life is the sometimes awkward, but often humanizing art of small talk. Hill laments the dearth of this in the church in a pandemic-laden world:
I may be an introvert, but I miss talking to the little kids who used to swarm my pew after the service and now worship with their parents in a kid-friendly overflow room and leave by a separate door. I miss joking with the teens in their pre-pandemic back-row huddle. I miss the dozens of casual relationships that were refreshed, five minutes at a time, over coffee in the pink-carpeted fellowship hall.
Hill believes that casual relationships, the ones often comprised of snippets of small talk, are not only psychologically healthful, but also Biblically encouraged. In fact, she states: “It might be impossible to imagine Jesus without his beloved disciple John, or Paul without his beloved son Timothy, but it would also be wrong to think of them without dozens of looser bonds that supported their ministries and refreshed their hearts.”
In the end, Hill contends that small talk is more than just “useless chatter.” In fact, it’s part of the process by which we establish and reaffirm mutual trust in our relationships. She says:
We may love to dismiss small talk as useless chatter, but by demonstrating interest in others’ seemingly insignificant matters, we establish the trust to care for them in bigger trials too. “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15) and “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2) are commands for the small events as well as the large.
Hill’s perspective is refreshing. While there is certainly a missed opportunity in never moving beyond small talk, especially for those we’ve known for some time, I think it’s also unwise to downplay the vital trust-building that takes place when we ask each other about school, work, the kids, hobbies or the local sports team. If God is sovereign over all things, then even mundane conversations about the weather or work are valuable opportunities to connect with another image-bearer and glorify the God who made us both.