Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Encourage One Another

It is not uncommon for teens, or young people, to look for enjoyment in the church. I, too, once looked for enjoyment on other churches when I can't find one on our church. As a church, we are one body who are there for each other. We are there to encourage one another.

Encouragement in the church

The other day, we had an inter-church fellowship sports fest with one of the churches that we're acquainted with. It was great, it was fun, and it was encouraging. A month ago, we also had an inter-church fellowship with them at their church with 3 other churches. 

These kinds of events are great tools for mutual encouragement, and especially for revivals. Aside from our youth fellowship every Sunday, having inter-church fellowship gives spice to our Christian life. Events such as youth camps, youth overnights or these inter-church fellowships helps us build relationships and bonds with fellow Christians. Through these, we can see the goodness of God in every other Christian.

As I said earlier, this is a good tool also for revival. We had a member who attended again because of this event, and hopefully lead him to be active in church. It's like fanning coal regularly to produce heat.

As a leader, I often see some of our youth who are shy therefore limiting them to only attend services, and not be active in other ministries or simply join our youth fellowships. One step to overcome their shyness is to establish bonds with each other. Know them, be friends with them, and simply encourage and help them with their struggles.

It would be good not to be hard on members who are struggling with their faith. I notice that some of them would be shy, and ashamed if you be hard on them like saying "why are you not there last sunday? [I expected you to come]" or something like that. I guess, we must be gentle in how to deal with them, even if they are attending for years. I, also, would feel shamed if I was approached like that.

So, how would we encourage one another?

1. Show grace, love and mercy to them

This is the most important thing that we should remember. As Christ showed us grace, love and mercy through the cross, and as we are striving to be like Christ, then we must also have grace, love and mercy. Be it with our service, worship, and relationships with others. 

2. Be there for them with their struggles

This is the hard part of every congregation or church. And, as part of encouraging one another, we should not only encourage them through words, but also through actions. If a person is struggling with faith, be there for them and guide them in strengthening their faith. Please, please don't be the person who offends others for lacking faith. Doing that discourages them, and does not help them refine their faith. 

3. Be gentle when dealing with their sin, shortcomings, or things they do and don't do

If your style with dealing with other people's sin is forceful, or authoritative.. or angry (ex. "I taught you this before, then why are you still doing it?"), then I think it won't be helpful with their spiritual life. It is most dangerous to use the Bible to control your church! 

Think about point #1 and #2. Are you showing grace, love and mercy to your member? And then, are you there for them with their struggles? Most especially teenagers, who are prone to be in the rebellious age, then gentleness is a must. Some may not agree with what I said, but I would stick with my style when dealing with our youth. You see, I tried to be, at times, the authoritative kind, but the more strict I become, the less they listen. 

Like point number 2, please don't be that person who offends, and worse, shames other people because of their sin and shortcomings. Even if you justify that shame is in the Bible, and shame is what makes us see our sin, the fact remains that WE are not to shame others. I agree that shame makes us see our sin, but WE are not to shame others. And also remember, are you gentle with how you deal with their sin? Do you show grace, love and mercy when dealing with it? And most especially, do you take time, effort to guide them, and let them understand their sin? 

4. Invite them regularly

Invite members, visitors and friends to your church events, and even on simple sunday services. Don't be forceful, but just show concern for them. Show them that they are important to your life perhaps, but don't have the ego of "I'm better because I go to church."

5. Show appreciation for their efforts and service

Sometimes, this is one thing that discourages other Christians. When we don't feel appreciated. I know that our service belongs to the Lord, and we are to serve not for the glory of men. But still, appreciating the work of a fellow Christian in the Lord encourages them. Simply thanking your Pastor for his service in the ministry shows the Pastor that you appreciate his work. Telling your Pastor that he has a wonderful message last sunday encourages him to do his best with preaching. Don't let your ego and pride be ahead before telling your Pastor how his message last sunday was interfering with your life, or how it hurt your feelings.

Simply appreciating a member's service in cleaning or other efforts deeply helps them feel loved in the church. A simple "thank you" is enough.

Be one with your members, or youth group. Joke with them. Play with them. Simply, be a friend. That's all it takes. Do not put up categorization tags that would lead you to create walls within the church. Show love to everyone, no favorites, and be a leader who is there for someone who experiences struggles or hardships. Appreciate every effort and work they do, be it voluntary or voluntold. As a leader - no, as a friend and brother in Christ, we are to encourage one another.

So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.

- I Thessalonians 5:11

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