Ministry of Encouragement
It is our desire to see men like Barnabas and ladies like Dorcas raised up for a ministry of encouragement at Christ Covenant Church. We think the beginning stages of this ministry will be important to to those maturing adults among us, but will not be limited to these members. If you are interested in participating with others in a regular ministry of encouragement please contact Pastor Jim Wilkerson (firstname.lastname@example.org). We will be gathering a group together to learn how and practice coming alongside of one another in the ministry of encouragement. We will conduct our first Ministry of Encouragement Seminar on Friday October 5th 6:00 - 8:00 pm. If you are interested please call the church office or contact Pastor Jim Wilkerson.
Ministry of Encouragement Together
The ministry of encouragement is a rare activity. Influence for good or bad is an everyday experience, but not encouragement. Paul calls the church to the ministry of encouragement. "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing." (1 Thes. 5:11). The writer of Hebrews calls the church to do it everyday, “But exhort (encourage) one another everyday, as long as it is called today.” (Heb.3:13).
Encouragement is defined as, "The act of giving courage, or confidence of success; incitement to action or to practice; incentive." (Websters 1828 Dictionary). Encouragement is a relational activity where someone is directed by another in a positive direction. Certainly a person may be encouraged to take action and those actions may have negative or detrimental effects. In a situation like this we might say to another, "don't encourage him". But what we really mean is don't influence him. Encouragement is positive and relational. Influence is positive or negative and may or may not be relational.
Therefore, as image bearers of God we should seek to be an encouragement toward others rather than simply influencers. As people influenced by our own sinful nature it is easier to speak of being influenced than encouraged. We are naturally independent and this makes us easily influenced or influencers. You can ask a person, "Who has influenced you?", and they will be more readily able to answer that question. But if you were to ask them, "Who has encouraged you recently?", they would be hard pressed to answer because it requires relationship on both sides. We are influenced and rarely encouraged because we want to be left alone. Those who would pursue being encouraged or being an encouragement need relationship. Encouragement is a "one another" activity of our life in Jesus Christ.
There were two disciples in the early church recorded in Acts who modeled this ministry of encouragement. Joseph was a convert in the church at Jerusalem. Tradition teaches that he was influenced by the teaching and ministry of Jesus Christ in Galilee and became one of the seventy whom Jesus sent out. He was in Jerusalem at the time of Pentecost and was most likely one of the early 120 followers of Jesus gathered after his ascension waiting for the promised Holy Spirit. He was known by the apostles as "Barnabas", which means "the son of encouragement" (Acts 4:36). He was used of the Lord to bring great encouragement to the church in Jerusalem, Antioch, to the apostle Paul, other churches in Asia Minor, and to John Mark, assisting him to be restored to the ministry.
There was another disciple living in Joppa named Dorcas. She also was a great encourager in the church. Luke reports that, “She was full of good works and acts of charity.” (Acts 9:36). She died and Peter came and raised her up. The widows who were present went from great sorrow to great joy. These women had been greatly encouraged by Dorcas’ love and good works toward them in the midst of their life of widowhood.
Paul, who had received encouragement through Barnabas, wrote to the church at Thessalonica reminding them that God has not destined his church for wrath but for life that we would live in the Son(1 Thes.5:9-10). This life in the Son necessitates encouragement. They had been influenced for good through the preaching of the gospel, but to continue in that life they needed encouragement. He says, "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing." (1Thes.5:11). Encouragement requires relationship with the goal to building one another up (Eph.4:29). It does not mean we always have to wait until someone is faint hearted before we begin being an encouragement (1 Thes.5:14). Building up through encouragement requires everyday relationships of listening, knowing, loving and speaking into one another's lives. Encouragement in the church is a necessary everyday occurrence.