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5 Conversation Topics for the Church in Quarantine

March 30, 2020
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Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

As we begin another week of social distancing, I want to return to another suggestion from an earlier post on ways we can be the church during this season: talk.

Again, while visiting one another in person may be limited, God’s common grace has provided a remarkable variety of resources for communicating with people remotely: text, chat, FaceTime, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Portal, etc. And that good old fashioned medium, the telephone.

But what should we talk about? You don’t need to overthink it, but here are a few suggested conversation topics to help God’s people connect meaningfully during this season of isolation.

Life. Again, you don’t need to overthink it. Talk about whatever you would talk about if you were visiting in person. Update each other on how you’re doing, what you’re doing—the kind of stuff that we’re used to discussing in passing throughout the day. While small talk might feel kind of trivial, it’s also normal, and many of us are missing it. Resist the temptation to think that you have to have some grand reason for actually picking up the phone. Just call and catch up.

Fear. While it’s good to catch up on normal things, we all recognize that this season is anything but normal. Life is so disrupted, a deadly virus is spreading, and there is so much uncertainty about the future, that it’s really easy to be afraid. Discuss those fears with each other. What’s bugging or distracting you? What’s keeping you up at night? How are your family members handling this? Listen empathetically to each other, and encourage each other with the truth of the gospel—that in Christ, we have someone who is bigger than anything we might fear (cf. Mk. 4:35-41).

Grief. As the closures and self-quarantines drag on, a lot of people are experiencing loss. Families losing loved ones, workers being laid off, students unable to finish the school year. It hits us in different ways, but this is a sad time. And sometimes the church is scared of being honest about our sadness. Grief feels weak or unspiritual, as if real Christians should be able to pull themselves together and block out negative emotion. Not only is that silly and unhealthy, it’s anti-biblical. Grieving together is good for our hearts, and good for the church. Our Lord grieved at the tomb of his friend Lazarus (Jn. 11). And we’ve been given a soundtrack for our grief through the psalms of lament—the kind of songs that give voice to the pain, grief, and frustration we’re experiencing, and bring those cries to the Lord (e.g., Ps. 13; 22; 42-43; 88). Talk about your sadness and grief.

Hope. At the same time, in Christ our grief is not without hope (1 Thess. 4:13). Despite the uncertainty of this season, we know how the story ends. And COVID-19 doesn’t win. Jesus wins. He has already conquered the grave through his bodily resurrection, and when he returns we will share in that resurrection and receive an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading (1 Cor. 15:20-26; 1 Pet. 1:3-4). Remind each other of the hope you have in Christ. Preach the gospel to each other—not because you don’t know the information, but because it’s worth rehearsing, celebrating, and applying to our daily lives, fears, and grief.

Perseverance. And because we have hope, we can encourage one another to persevere in faith and obedience amid the suffering and dislocation. And we need that encouragement. The encouragement to keep listening to God’s voice in the Scripture. To keep holding fast to the gospel. To keep saying no to sin and yes to Christ. As the author of Hebrews reminds us,

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. (Heb. 3:12-14 ESV)

Let’s keep talking and encourage one another, that we might hold firm together.

 

Related Posts:

Being the Church in a Day of Social Distancing

4 Ways to Pray for Your Church during Self-Isolation

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