Church and Defeating the ‘Hi and Fine’

By Scott L: Guest Blogger

I want to go back to the reference in my last post in regards to the ‘Hi and Fine’ conversation. It went something like this:

Frank: How are you?
Ted: I’m fine. How are you?
Frank: I’m fine. How is your wife?
Ted: Oh, she’s fine.
Frank: How are your children?
Ted: Oh, they’re fine.
Frank: How’s the dog?
Ted: He’s fine.
Frank: How’s the stock market?
Ted: Oh, it’s fine.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is what is known as the ‘Hi and Fine Church’.

I know some disagreements can arise around this part of the discussion, or possibly other parts as well. I mean, come on, can we really expect to be close with everyone? Can we expect to have deep conversations with everyone? No, of course not. And I did try and make that clear in the article. But I wanted to elaborate a little more in regards to what I believe God intended when He intended the church, the people of God.

Relationships are hard. Matter of fact, it might be safer to stay away from them, if you don’t want your heart to get trampled on. And that will happen. But the church, as first and foremost a people, are called into relationship. You know, as I have argued elsewhere, we do have to consider lining up our lives with the Trinity.

I am not naïve, I promise. When we meet together on Sunday morning, or whenever, in the larger context, I do not expect every time we are asked, ‘How are you doing,’ that we give a long, extended rundown of our innermost life. But we could say that the capacity of going deep with one another is available if we are all standing on the same ground of Christ and indwelt by the same Spirit that takes us deeper in our own relationship with Christ.

What I do long for, for the church, is that we move towards functioning as a community of God’s people who see relationship as essential above all other things. We begin to look to embrace and enjoy what Eugene Peterson has termed as ‘conversational humility,’ meaning we have shared conversation, with humbleness, allowing for the diversity of our strengths, gifts, abilities and differences.

Our conversations do not consist of simply the surface issues, although there is nothing wrong in talking about basketball or a new novel we just finished or about our favorite music group. But, we are ultimately called to something deeper, as David Benner reminds us in his book, Sacred Companions:

This is not the same as discussing theology, church politics or even the Sunday sermon. Genuine spiritual intimacy involves sharing my experience, not simply my ideas.

So, when someone asks you this Sunday, ‘How are you?,’ feel free to answer, ‘I’m doing pretty well.’ But, in the end, let our hearts and longings be stirred for deeper conversation, deeper shared life, and deeper Spirit-led relationships. For in doing so, we will be emulating the Trinity and we will begin to make the world a little more curious about our life in Christ. This, I believe, is what God intended when He intended church, that is us.

Rey’s Local Church Series.

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