I was thinking of writing the next how to book for church. I know there is a useful little course out called six steps to encouragement, though the fact we need a course on this suggests to me that there is something wrong with our discipling and our church culture that we have to teach this and its not simply absorbed through the church culture, but I have a better idea. It’s much simpler, much more streamlined, but I’m not sure you can call it a course, or turn it into a course – it’s called one step to encouragement.
It would be a one week course, with one study, with essentially one simple idea. Except the problem is I’m not convinced people would feel it meaty enough to publish, buy, package or attend. My simple one step to encouragement is this: turn up. Be there. Attend. Encouragement begins with your presence – because you can’t encourage others if you aren’t there. We would look throughout the Bible at how people need other people – think Adam and Eve, the plan for Abraham to become a people, Moses needing Aaron, Elijah calling Elisha, Jesus gathering a group around him – and I don’t think Jesus today would Skype or Zoom or FaceTime them instead. We would look at how the Bible ends with a picture of presence, believers from every nation, tongue, and tribe together, gathered to praise and enjoy God.
I know it’s not rocket science, but then I don’t think any of the 6 steps are either. But just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it doesn’t need saying.
Quality of relationship flows out of quantity of relationships. If we want to go deep in getting to know someone we need to spend time with people. Often the best conversations flow out of long periods of time of just being together. You know what its like when you meet up with friends, it takes a while to warm up to the important conversations. To create a dichotomy between quality and quantity is stupid. One feeds the other. And that means presence, being there matters. Being at church no matter what. Bending the schedule, shaping the week so that we can be present whenever God’s people meet together. And then doing it again and again and again. Presence is the foundation of encouragement, it’s where it begins.
If you want to encourage others turn up. Be there. Be there at church to greet them and chat and sing alongside them and pray with them. Be there at Bible study to spur each other on in studying and questioning and seeking answers from God’s word. Be there at major events, commit. Encourage. Just imagine what a difference that might make.