Wednesday Word: Encourage
The Mission of St. John's is to . . . Worship, Welcome, Serve, and Encourage
The focus this week is the final word in our Mission Statement: Encourage
This just might be the most difficult of the four parts of our mission to define. It's not that to encourage, or to be encouraging, is difficult to define, but just how do we do that?
I'll name a few, but then I'm going to leave it up to you to find ways to encourage people.
In our worship, we encourage people to experience the holiness of this place and the liturgy. The Episcopal liturgy is similar to some liturgies, but also different from many. One of the things that makes our liturgy different is the tandem use of the BCP and the Hymnal. This can be confusing to some; but by sitting with people who are new to the Episcopal church and helping them through the different books, we are encouraging them to experience the liturgy in its fullness.
We encourage people to a life of discipleship through our different classes. Both the Sunday morning forum between services and the Monday night forum offer something different for people. And the Sunday school classes for the various age groups of children also encourage them to learn about Christianity, life in the church, and discipleship.
We encourage people to participate in various ways during the service, from ushering to serving at the altar and singing in the choir.
Beyond our worship, we have a variety of areas which people can serve. We have a family-oriented shelter where we encourage participation of our parishioners, and the shelter itself encourages the residents to move on to permanent housing. Our participation in the Micah's Backpack program helps feed children which encourages them to learn, because you can't learn properly when you're hungry. Our Community Cafe program feeds both adults and children one Saturday a month. This program encourages people to come in and eat, encourages them to take supplies they may need, encourages them to a (possible) different kind of behavior when they are in our building, and hopefully offers the encouragement of God's love.
Our parish culture of welcoming people into our midst also offers a form of encouragement. I believe that people are truly encouraged to see a church that actually lives into its stated belief of, “All are Welcome.”
As we move forward, how might you encourage people to worship with us? How might you offer encouragement to those around you through your presence and acts? How might you be encouraged to serve? Encouragement can also be described as joy. So when we Worship, Welcome, and Serve, if we do it with a sense of joy, then we will also be doing it with an encouraging attitude.