Chapter 7 – Encouraging

We could all use a broader perspective on encouragement. Usually we see it as giving compliments to individuals or groups about specific things we've observed them being or doing. One type of encouragement that every disciple needs to see is the big picture: How does my ministry involvement fit into the overall purpose of my church? Understanding and embracing our connection with the flow of an entire church deepens the meaningfulness of service. (And mobilization is all about connecting God's people with meaningful ministry, right?)

Most church leaders desire to get more people involved in ministry. However, it is easier to overlook those already committed and serving when we are focused on getting new people "on board." We would do better to ensure first that we encourage the ones who serve now. Studies show that "satisfied customers" tell others about good products and experiences. So, the more closely our volunteers feel connected with our church or ministry team, the more likely they are to become natural recruiters by telling others about their positive experiences in serving.

Jay details five basic aspects of encouragement that we need for creating a constructive ministry environment:

  1. Encouragement needs to be both individual and corporate.
  2. Encouragement should be specific.
  3. Encouragement should be planned and intentional.
  4. Encouragement needs to be both regular and unpredictable.
  5. Encouragement needs to be mixed with correction and improvement.

Jay also relates the importance of "customizing" the ways we encourage, based on ways different individuals best receive it – just as we should adapt the ways we equip people according to their learning style preferences. So, he advocates using the framework from The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. Dr. Chapman believes that people give and receive love in one of five preferred ways. If we are to encourage and motivate people, we would do well to deliver that appreciation in the love language they can most readily receive it:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Acts of Service
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Quality Time
  5. Touch

There are many other specific ways we can create an environment of genuine, positive encouragement, while removing false motivation through guilt, shame, and criticism. It is important to remember that encouraging is as crucial to overall effectiveness in ministry mobilization efforts as the other five elements in the system: connecting, identifying, equipping, empowering, and multiplying.