Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do —1 Thessalonians 5:11, KJV
But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions. Partly, whilst ye were made a gazing stock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used. For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance. Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward —Hebrews 10:32-35, KJV
We all need to be lifted up from time to time, but it can be hard to know the right thing to say to someone who is hurting, discouraged or down.
It’s not what you say, rather how you say it, explains Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages, in his February 2009 article, “The Power of the Tongue.” Kindness, Chapman adds, is about encouragement.
In order to express our love to one another through words of affirmation, Chapman says, the words – and our tone, must be kind. Words, he says, are encouraging not because of the words themselves, but how those words are said. The same can be said for discouraging words. It’s the tone that either lifts us up or tears us down.
Know the difference between encouraging words and nagging words, Chapman says. Encouraging words focus on what the other person wants, he explains, while nagging focuses on what you want them to do, and only serves to discourage. Verbal compliments communicate love in a powerful way.
True fellowship is when we get together to share our joys and our worries, our problems and our triumphs, and most of all, to encourage each other through scripture. When we do this, we help one another stay focused on what matters. Some of the ways we can share encouragement through fellowship are:
– Bible study
– Mens’ or Women’s breakfast
– Life groups (small groups)
– Moms In Touch or Moms in Prayer
– Family Nights
– Themed dinners
– Ministry projects
– Church picnics
– Community outreach projects
Fellowship, according to Joe McKeever in his article “10 Insights About Your Church’s Fellowship,” may not be the reason people come to your church, but it will be the reason they stay. Fellowship — in and of itself — encourages. The visitor to your church sees hospitality first, he adds, then joy and then commitment. McKeever explains,
“Most people who are church-hunting can give a dozen things they are looking for in their next place of worship. Usually, that involves location, type of preaching, strength of ministry, and various types of ministry (“We want a strong children’s ministry” or music or missions or youth or senior adults). But more than anything else, what they want is fellowship.
I’ve had newcomers tell me they were looking for a house of worship with features which my church did not offer. My heart saddened a little because I knew they would be going elsewhere. And yet, in many cases, they joined our church. When I asked, they spoke in terms of friendliness, our making them feel welcome, and the spirit of the church. Rarely, if ever, did they use the actual word “fellowship,” but that’s what it was all about.”
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another —John 13:34-35, KJV