The definition of encourage is to give support, confidence or hope to someone so they can continue to do something.
It’s one of the keywords in the book of Acts. And it could very well be why the early church grew so rapidly.
We still need encouragement today.
Many people have encouraged me and I see many leaders encouraging others. On the other hand, the culture itself, at least in print and on the screen, seems to do the opposite of encouragement.
Places where encouragement mattered in the book of Acts:
- Paul traveled to encourage the churches. (Acts 20:2)
- Paul was encouraged by the people. (Acts 28:15)
- The Holy Spirit encouraged the church. (Acts 9:31)
- The Lord encouraged Paul to keep preaching. (Acts 23:11)
- People were encouraged in their faith in the midst of hardships. (Acts 14:22)
- Encouragement was often the last thing to happen before leaving an area. (Acts 16:40)
- The church encouraged young people to serve in other parts of the world. (Acts 18:27)
- People were invited to come and encourage others in the church. (Acts 13:15)
- Paul was encouraged as he connected with other believers. (Acts 28:15)
- Barnabas, known as the son of encouragement, was a key figure in the story. (Acts 4:36)
How should we encourage the church?
- Encourage each other by meeting together with the whole church and in small groups.
- Encourage social media users by posting Godly and uplifting words.
- Encourage the next generation to follow God’s leading in their lives and live boldly.
- Encourage your pastor and other church leaders with good words, gifts, or wisdom.
Any believer can encourage. You don’t have to be trained to do so. And who knows the kind of impact your encouragement will have in the kingdom.
Here are a few ways I’ve been encouraged during my life:
- Someone encouraged me to bring my guitar to youth group and I’ve been leading students ever since.
- One of my teachers commented that what I had written in a particular paper was “gold” and that everyone needed to hear it.
- A church administrative assistant looked me in the eye after I told him about my ministry travel schedule over the past month, saying, “and all this comes naturally to you?”
- One young man told me, “I hope I can one day arrange my life in such a way that I can do anything with my summers like you do.”
- An entire church gathered around me, laid on hands and prayed for me after I served as a guest leader.
None of these was earth-shattering. I didn’t have a huge fan base nor was I an influencer in any way. I was a regular person. God used small bits of encouragement from others to help me clarify my gifts and calling. That encouragement eventually catapulted me into a life of following him wholeheartedly.
We need to encourage each other in the church. Be generous with encouragement. Love it when you see friends and family succeed in life. Encourage broadly and specifically. And do it all you can, in the name of Jesus. It might just grow the church.