So I read a quote this week that has stuck with me and I wanted to share it with you. It was not originally said in regard to small churches and the struggles they face but it hits hard when taken in that context. The quote is “”Your biggest BATTLE isn’t the numbers. Your biggest BATTLE is discouragement.”
This is so true, since 2020 churches, especially smaller ones, have faced struggle after struggle and difficulty after difficulty. Pastors have dealt with depression, anxiety, and the loss of members, and many have resigned from their positions because the discouragement and struggles of ministry were too much for them to bare.
Churches have been frustrated, angry, disillusioned, and sad over the state of our nation and the communities we live in. Apathy over spiritual matters, valuing temporal matters over eternal ones, and overall burnout when it comes to the church have exhausted and exasperated the church.
Discouragement is giant we face in the midst of a post-COVID world. It is discouragement that says give up, it zaps our strength, tells us things will never get better and makes us want to walk away.
What do we do then in the midst of this struggle? We must remember who we are, why we work, and we encourage others.
We are Christians, bought by the blood of Christ, redeemed from our sins and our home is in heaven. The things we do to minister to others might seem fruitless but we do them because of who we are, we are children of the King.
We work and minister and carry on because God is worthy of our praise. Though church attendance has shrunk over the past 2 1/2 years the worthiness of our Savior has not.
Finally, if we want to battle discouragement we need to give encouragement. This week, if you meet someone new, I promise you this, they are struggling with something. It might be a battle at work, a problem in their family, or a health issue but they are struggling. If you want to help change their life, give them some encouragement. Speak a kind word to them, give them a little bit of hope, and bring a smile to their face in some way and I know that their life will be all the better for it.
In your Sunday school class or in the sanctuary this Sunday, tell those you sit with how much you appreciate them and give them a big hug. Let your Sunday school teacher or minister know that you appreciate their hard work. I promise you it will brighten their day.
You know if we all are in the practice of giving encouragement we might find the discouragement of our lives a smaller foe to face.