Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Creating Culture Part 2 - Encouragement

On with our discussion on creating culture (although I sure would like a few more of you to chime in on this discussion). The culture we're going to look at today is a culture of encouragement.

I think one of the most common weapons used by the enemy on Christian is discouragement. As a youth pastor, if there's anything that can slow me down in ministry it's becoming discouraged that my ministry isn't working, that we aren't reaching enough kids, that my leaders just aren't getting it, etc. With the devil working around the clock to bring discouragement, one of the most important cultures we must have in the church is encouragement.

The church should be a place where people can come and be built up and encouraged. They should leave our gatherings filled with hope and faith. I believe there must be a more concentrated effort from leaders to encourage young people in their life, ministries, and their calling.

Romans 1:11-12 - For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established— that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.

The challenging part is that we're committed to biblical community. So while we want to bring encouragement, love, and hope to people, we're never going to stop preaching against sin and challenging people to change. That would be unhealthy for everyone. We're in youth ministry to transform ordinary young people into radical, world changing disciples.

Our strategy in accomplishing this so far is to have a two pronged attack. From the pulpit, I really preach hard against sin and foolishness. I never apologize or hold back. We bring real, relevant truth to the young people every Wed night. The second part of the strategy is this - there's a youth staff of around 50 young leaders who understand that their main job is to love and encourage young people like they've never experienced. These youth staff minister to students from a place of encouragement and unconditional love.

If both parties do their job, we should be creating a culture that is incredibly encouraging and challenging at the same time. This is a culture where young people can experience real life change. They can't listen to the message preached and stay comfortable in their sin. And when they respond, there are leaders there to walk with them and encourage them that they can and will succeed.

I feel like we are making some good progress with this approach. But I'm always looking for ways to encourage young people more.

What do you think?

What are some things we can do to create a culture of encouragement in the church? (BTW, you certainly don't have to go to FLC to weigh in. I'd love to hear from you wherever you are!!)


kypalmer said...

One of the biggest ways that I know that I am encouraged is when I know that someone just wants to hang out with me. When you know that somebody values you and your life, you end up feeling very encouraged. As leaders, we can encourage people just by talking to them as if they're the most important person in the room. We shouldn't always be looking for somebody cooler to talk to.

Jess said...

I completely agree, Ky! I think that this ties into inclusiveness. As we include, we encourage. I can testify to this personally.

Also, as the leaders set that example of encouragement, it begins to set an atmosphere where students want to encourage each other as well--thus, they do life together!

Randy and Danielle said...

Inclusiveness... Coming from a married stand point, it is way easier to sit near someone I know/feel comfortable with... but I LOVE what Pastor Steve said this weekend - that God uses the uncomfortable things to help shape & mold us into the people He desires us to be! SO a new challenge is to sit w/ people I normally wouldn't sit w/ & to encourage the girls in my life group to do the same!
I think a healthy/good challenge is the one Pastor Steve gave us @ the last meeting... It is our duty to go meet & greet anyone & everyone in the foyer.

Encouragement... Be someone who notices & remembers the details someone tells you! I am very bad at this so I write myself notes, right after service or after an encounter w/ someone I know I'll see again, jotting down the details they tell me so I can get an update from them later. We don't have to be cheesy either - the littlest of things sometimes mean the most! At least I find this true in my life - it makes me feel valued and I want to be someone who values others!

Charlene said...

I find it interesting that there are no links for the word "encourage" or "encouragement" on Wikipedia... Just kind of curious..
At this point in my life, it seems like spending time with someone along with sincere, authentic words of affirmation are two of the most important ways to encourage someone. We all hang on to discouraging, unempowering words for way too long.. We need to be reminded and reminded of how much God loves us and feel that love through others in our lives.