January 8, 2019

Encouraging Words

In his letter to the Christian community already established in Rome, Paul provides deep insights about God’s plan for the salvation of all people and its fulfillment through Jesus. Paul longs to travel to Rome to continue teaching in person. But early in the letter, he humbly states that he would benefit from such a visit too: “That is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” (Romans 1:12)

Mutual encouragement through our faith is a beautiful thing to experience, and to witness. I see it each time I train a congregation’s capital campaign “gift ambassadors” – the volunteers who will meet one-on-one with fellow parishioners to invite them to give to the campaign.

At the beginning of the training, we review the campaign brochure, which explains the projects to be funded, what each will cost, and why each is important to the ministry of the church. This information is the result of months of research, congregational meetings and cost estimating.

Before the “how to ask” part of the training, each volunteer is invited to explain why he or she supports the campaign. Responses rarely include those well-honed facts and figures.

“I give because this church nurtured my children and strengthened my faith.”

“I want to be like those in generations before who built and preserved this place for us today.”

“I give because there is no other place where I have been so accepted and loved for who I am, as I am.”

“I give because the music here touches my soul and brings me closer to God.”

There isn’t a dry eye in the room when such statements and accompanying stories are completed. We are all held there, caught up in an uplifting glow of mutual encouragement.

In the ongoing work of ministry, whether Vestry, clergy, nursery volunteers, property commissions or the Altar Guild, there are facts to be sorted, budgets to be set, and decisions to be made. In all that, let us also share our faith with each other. Your story may be just the thing a sister or brother needs to be encouraged.

This blog is part of a series for the Good Book Club. Learn more about the Good Book Club here.