Core Competencies of the Missionary Disciple
And let us consider how to stir up one another in love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another. Hebrews 10:24-25
Much of my campus ministry consists in giving godly Christian encouragement. I’m pretty good at it, and I enjoy it. Once, after a one-on-one with a student, she thanked me. “I always feel so good after visiting with you,” she said. While honored, I was also a little uneasy. I decided to ask a follow up question. “Jennifer, is there anyone else in your life who speaks Scripture-based encouragement into your life?” With hardly any pause, she said, “No. That’s why we come to you!”
I was not happy with the response. It seemed to confirm my suspicions about a significant deficit in our faith culture.
I inquired further. “You mean you and your friends don’t give this kind of encouragement to one another?” “No, not really,” she said. “Well, what do you talk about then?” “Well, we mostly just talk about life, school, relationships...the usual stuff. We complain a lot!”
Now, understand: this young woman and her friends are among the best and brightest student leaders. These are highly committed, Jesus-loving disciples: mature Kingdom-seekers, highly involved at our Newman Center. And yet... they do not know how to encourage. For them, it’s the specialist’s job. “That’s why we come to you!”
Thankfully, we have a trusting relationship, so I began explaining to her why this was a problem. “Did you know that every Christian is authorized and equipped to speak godly encouragement to each other?” She honestly did not. I began going through some Scriptures with her and showing her how they give us authority to effectively encourage one another in Christ.
She is teachable and so, as the conversation progressed, she realized that giving godly Christian encouragement is a basic competency that, regrettably, was lacking in our community. We began talking about ways we might remedy this situation and the conversation bore lots of fruit.
To “evangelize” simply means to tell the “good news” that Jesus heals and saves. While we often associate evangelizing with making converts, we sometimes forget that we all need evangelizing, even believers. Maybe even especially believers.
People today are beaten down and discouraged. Negativity surrounds us like so much noxious, poisonous gas. Church culture, unfortunately, can be extremely gloomy and negative. We need Christian friends who lovingly and authoritatively speak the truth of God’s victory into our lives. We need “cheerleaders” to hearten us on to victory! We need to give each other hope! Real Christian hope, not platitudes - scriptural truth, not “now, now, there, there” sentimentality.
We can’t give what we don’t have. We ourselves need to be convinced of God’s Kingdom victory, so we can convincingly declare it into the lives of others. Our thoughts need to come into alignment with God’s thoughts. Declaratory prayer is a great place to start, to intentionally channel the power of Scripture into our thought realm for the renewal of the mind. From there, we can - and must - pay it forward and declare the encouraging truths of God’s power into the lives of one another.
How many Christian spouses, children, co-workers and friends languish in negativity when, all around them, are Christian believers who can and should be building them up, but remain silent, withholding encouragement? This must change! Gaining competence and boldness in giving godly, Scripture-driven encouragement can heal and transform families and communities by sowing gladness and breakthrough in Jesus’ name.
Here are just a few examples of what godly Christian encouragement might look like, depending on the situation:
- To someone struggling with a difficulty: “You can do all things in Christ who strengthens you!” (Phil 4:13)
- To someone facing great trials: “God is for you, who can be against you?” (Rom 8:31)
- To someone struggling with shame: “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ!” (Rom 8:1)
- To someone feeling poor: “Christ became poor so that by his poverty, you could be rich!” (2 Cor 8:9)
- To someone feeling oppressed by evil “In Christ, you have authority to trample serpents and scorpions. Nothing will harm you!” (Luke 10:19)
- To someone feeling like a nobody: “You are God’s daughter, and everything he has is yours!” (Luke 15:31)
- Etc, etc, etc...
If these sayings sound like platitudes, it’s because we have not adequately internalized them. When we enter into full agreement with God’s word of truth, an authoritative alliance forms between God’s spirit and ours. Jesus spoke with authority because he spoke as one whose words were HIS, not another’s. To the extent that his words become OURS, we too will speak them with authority into the lives of others.
Look, it all comes down to one main assumption: God’s promises, not circumstances, are the defining reality. If we truly believe this, then we have the makings of great encouragers.
Encouraging is NOT a specifically clerical role. It is everyone’s job - each member of the body must be equipped and competent in encouraging their brethren in Christ. St Paul is very clear on this point (for example: Eph 4:15-16; Col 3:16; Rom 15:14; 1 Cor 1-14; Heb 3:12-13; Heb 10:24-25).*
In church cultures, there is too much complaining, and too little encouraging. Too much apologetical discussing, too little Scriptural declaring. Too much diagnosing, too little prescribing. The wholesome, effective medicine is right at our disposal! We have but to speak it!
If we do not consciously build up a culture of godly Christian encouragement, we will pay a stiff tax in unreleased gifts, untapped creativity, unused intelligence, and low morale. We will remain mired in negativity, gossip, analysis, and complaining, while heaven’s invasion of earth is thwarted and the Kingdom does not advance. Let us learn to encourage one another in Christ!
- When has the receiving of some godly Christian encouragement really helped and blessed you?
- What dreams have languished in your life due to lack of encouragement?
- Who do you need to encourage you more?
- How might faith leaders train people in the competence of godly Christian encouragement?
- Who are people in your life who might benefit from your encouragement?
- How can spouses use Christian encouragement to build one another up and strengthen their marriage?
- How can parents use Christian encouragement to build up their children?
- How can pastors, ministers and educators use Christian encouragement to build up those they serve?
Core Competencies of the Missionary Disciple
Introduction: NSP For Evangelizing
1) Telling Your Story
2) Telling the Jesus Story (the Kerygma)
4) Next Week: Accompanying/Praying With