Discipleship: Encourage

This step, ENCOURAGE, is the make or break moment for the maturity of the member.  Many members are content to sit back and let the professionals, i.e. paid staff, do the work of ministry.  However, that is not a biblical understanding of the Christian’s responsibility to the church.  A member who engages through a small group is much less likely to leave, but that is not the end goal for the Christian.  A member who begins encouraging others through service in the body is much more productive for the kingdom.  This step towards maturity must be both expected and praised.  It will look different for each member based on his or her gifts and passions, but the church must do all we can to provide venues for service.  These venues could range from taking meals to the homebound at Thanksgiving to opening their home for a Bible Study.  Whatever form they take, there needs to be opportunity for “much and often” service for every member.  This step can be constantly put before the congregation through the corporate worship service and small group announcements, emails, and service opportunity bulletins.  Because of the diverse nature of service opportunities, one inherent danger of this step will be the understanding of who is taking it and who needs to be motivated towards it.  Several avenues of accountability are available: small group leaders, deacons, or staff. The best would be a system that provides an open line of communication between all three about progress by individual members.  As members take this step, their “buy-in” will  increase exponentially as they invest their own time and talents in serving others in the community and the church.

Next Step: EXPAND

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