Six Steps to Encouragement

  • 13 September 2013

God has given every Christian an enormous privilege and gift: the power to speak his life-changing word into the lives of other people. There's no reason at all for there to be 'passengers' in a church: every Christian can change the lives of those around them through knowing and telling the message of God's grace, whether in front of a group, in a handwritten note, in a one-to-one conversation over morning tea, or in a thousand other ways. Every Christian can be a channel of encouragement. In Six Steps to Encouragement you'll learn the why and how of personal encouragement. Through video input, Bible study, practical examples, discussions and hands-on exercises, you'll discover how to bring life, hope and strength to those around you by bringing the powerful word of God to them. You'll also work through practical case studies such as welcoming newcomers, listening, rebuking, and dealing with suffering.

"Like Matthias Media's other foundational course, Two Ways to Live, Six Steps to Encouragement is a course that deserves to see wide usage. Like Two Ways to Live, it is well-rounded, flexible, thoroughly biblical, and will enable many to speak God's word to others with confidence and courage." — Southern Cross magazine

Six Steps to Encouragement is a six-session course, best undertaken in a small group (of 6-10 people). To run the course you will need:

  • the text of each study (printed out or distributed digitally) for each person
  • the leader's notes, which are a separate download
  • a way to show the video content to your group.

Free download of chapter one.

About the author

Gordon Cheng is married to Fiona and has three daughters. He has studied psychology and theology, and worked with uni students and as a minister in several parishes in Melbourne and Sydney. He is interested in choral and piano music, writing letters to newspapers, and reading church history.


Introduction

For some Christians, who are very active in their churches, it can seem that there’s never enough people to do all the jobs. Other Christians feel just the opposite—they feel that everybody has a role to play in church except them. All the jobs seem to be taken. What can I do to contribute?

This course teaches every Christian how to make one simple and foundational contribution to church life—encouraging other people. The writer to the Hebrews says that this is one of the basic reasons for meeting with each other:

Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Heb 10:24-25)

Paul says much the same thing in Ephesians 4, where his vision of the church working as it should is one where every single member “speaks the truth in love”.

However, our words to other Christians in many instances don’t seem to progress much beyond the weather, the TV, and the weekend trivia. Sometimes when we do get beyond trivialities, we struggle to know what to say that will genuinely encourage others in their lives and their Christian walk.

In this course, we look at the why and how of Christian encouragement. In particular, we look at how Christians speak to each other—because although encouragement is supported and adorned by loving actions, and bathed in prayer, it mainly consists of what we say.

There are six sessions in the course, and they begin with the fundamental idea that God is the one who speaks to us. This word that God speaks is powerful and effective, and moves us from death to life through the word of the cross—the gospel of Jesus’ death and resurrection. It is the very same word that brought creation into being, and through the word of promise guaranteed the resurrection of Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The enormous privilege Christians are given is the privilege first of hearing and understanding that word; then, second, of being allowed, encouraged and commanded to speak God’s word to others. It is literally a life-transforming word, and as useful as theological study may be, we don’t need a one-year diploma or a three-year degree before we can speak it—simply and straightforwardly—to those around us.

This may mean giving a talk, but it may equally mean something as simple as meeting with one other person to read the Bible and to pray. It can happen in a huge range of contexts: across a fence, after church, next to a hospital bed, during a lunch break, in a kids’ program, or to a workmate. It may be a long conversation or talk; it may be a five-minute chat on the phone or a quick email. In this course we will look at what the Bible says about words, in particular the word of the gospel; and we will then consider and actually put into practice different ways of speaking God’s word.

By the end of the course, you will have met regularly with one person for the purpose of speaking and hearing God’s word, you will have prayed for opportunities to do more, and you will have made practical decisions about how to make progress in speaking and encouraging others in their relationship with God. This is an extraordinary privilege that God gives to every member of Christ’s body, the church.