Monday, September 17, 2012

How to Encourage Your Congregation

Two of our church members told me today they were encouraged by something I'd said in my sermon yesterday. My ears pricked up, my encouragement-o-meter revved into gear, I prepared myself for the life-changing revelation that my inspired words had brought about.

It turned out that the most encouraging part of yesterday morning was the bit where I talked about my struggles to pray: my prayer routines falling apart during the summer holidays, and that often I couldn't remember what I'd been reading in the Bible within 5 minutes of putting the book down.

Many years ago I heard someone preaching on 'fellowship in weakness', and he observed that it's very hard to get close to someone who's good at everything. It's actually our weaknesses that open us up to each other, make us human and approachable. Sometimes our best role models are people who fail well.


  1. Oh absolutely. WE can't cope with perfection whereas someone human & fallible gives you hope. Like Jesus?

  2. That is really good, thanks! (and now you have a name/url button I might comment more!)

  3. I am so glad to find someone else who admits to struggling with their prayer life over the summer. My new spiritual director and I recently talked about this, and he suggested that since we are talking with God through all our human interactions (especially with the family he gave us) that this was just fine. He also suggested if I remember correctly that this is why it's important to have people who intercede regularly for us - they continue to hold us before God in prayer whilst we're busy doing other stuff!

  4. This is definitely true. During my time as a novice nun I noticed a tendency for those new to the life (including myself) to want to appear competent in everything, and so we were all reluctant to admit any weaknesses for fear of rejection. But actually when you admit your struggles it opens up the door to your heart and allows others to have compassion and sympathy with you, and this actually helps them become more like God, and they like themselves a little bit more because they have been able to love you.

    I discovered later that there's also a temptation to manipulate those sympathies by overdoing your struggles. That's sometimes worth admitting too, especially in prayer, because God knows, and he smiles and loves us until we forgive ourselves.