Friday, May 5, 2023

Understanding How the Church Grows—Encouragement

By Brian Mitchell


    Have you ever been spiritually discouraged? If you have ever failed at something or seen the failures of others; it is likely that you would answer yes to this question. The fact is that we all get discouraged from time to time and for various reasons.

    Sometimes we get discouraged by our own mistakes. There are times when we set out to do something good and our plans backfire. There are times in the church that we try to launch out and do something which we have never done before and then feel like we messed everything up and made ourselves feel like failures. The point is that when you try to do things, especially new things, you are going to mess up and make some mistakes. The problem with our own failures is that they sometimes cause us to become discouraged and discouragement sometimes causes us to give up and think why bother.

    Other times we get discouraged by the mistakes of others. Sometimes we get discouraged because of the hypocrisy we see in the lives of other Christians. Sometimes we get discouraged because we see people make commitments to the Lord and then not follow through on them. Sometimes we get discouraged because people just don’t seem to be getting involved as they should in the Lord’s work. Thus, if it is not our own failures that discourage us spiritually, it is at times the failures and shortcomings of others that do the trick.

    That is why we need to be careful about the example we set for others, because we can set the wrong example and actually be a source of discouragement for our brethren. The point of all this is simple though; spiritually speaking we can all become discouraged from time to time and how we collectively deal with that discouragement will greatly affect the health, and thus growth, of this congregation. How do you deal with discouragement, by developing a properly balanced congregation?

    There is a place in every church for rebuking and disciplining. Paul had no toleration for false teachers or false teaching, worldliness or immorality. He warned people of hell and the judgment to come. He taught the fact that Christianity involved complete sacrifice and total surrender to the Lord. Paul, however, was not all hell fire and brimstone. He was a man of love and a man of compassion. And outside of our Lord Jesus Christ and Paul’s companion Barnabas, there is no one in Scripture that did more to encourage people than did the Apostle Paul—Rom.1:8-9, 1 Cor.1:4, 1 Thess.4:18, 5:11.

    How do we overcome discouragement? With encouragement (the act of giving hope, courage, and or inspiration to others). Thus, when people are discouraged and disheartened, a healthy church is quick to respond with a healthy dose of Vitamin E-encouragement. Why? Because no church composed of discouraged members is going to be a healthy church and no unhealthy churches are going to be growing. Thus, a local church that desires to grow must be filled with Paul’s and Barnabas’ that understand and fill the need of providing encouragement to others.

- Brian Mitchell serves as a minister with the Jackson Church of Christ in Jackson, MO. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at

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