Every month, our church has a prayer meeting in order to pray for the life of the church, as well as those it supports in missionary roles and things like that. A few weeks ago I was asked if I could lead a short section on the youth work for the evening meeting (there’s a lunchtime and an evening session). I have to admit my heart sank. I go to the lunchtime meeting as it always follows on from our staff meetings and so I don’t normally go in the evening. In all honesty, it’s a horrifically boring meeting and so the thought of having to endure it twice filled me with dread.
However, the whole thing was actually a really good experience. I decided to put together a powerpoint and a handout which detailed four areas of my work, each with two categories of things to pray about: things to give thanks for and things to be praying for. The process of thinking through these areas was really encouraging and allowed me to see how many good things are actually going on within our youth work. Then to get together with the rest of the church and pray that over with them was great. It was really encouraging to hear people praying out freely and not holding back and it was just really clear that people were behind the work that was going on.
So if you work in any kind of Christian ministry, I really recommend sitting down and making a simple list of things to give thanks for, even if you’re not about to lead a prayer meeting. In the every day grind of life, it’s easy to end up focusing on the problems and the things that need prayer and so it’s easy for the good stuff to get overlooked. When you sit down and try and think of the encouragements I reckon you’ll be hugely surprised by how much there is to give thanks for. Give it a try!
On a slightly different note, the change to working on a Saturday continues to be encouraging. I met with one of our teenagers for breakfast today and it was good to be able to get to know him a bit better away from the church and to shine some light on other areas of his life. It also threw up a few areas where there are clearly misunderstandings in terms of his grasp of Christianity and so it was good to be able to try and address some of those. When I’ve arranged a meeting with someone I’m always praying for the courage and boldness to ask them about their faith. It’s easy to feel like you’d be intruding and so back away from asking the hard questions, but I’ve found that 9 times out of 10 people are happy to chat about their faith and sometimes I think they’re almost hoping you’ll bring it up as there’s something on their mind.
So there’s a lot of good to focus on at the moment and that’s encouraging.
And the award for biggest overuse of the word “encouragement” in a blog goes to me!