How do we encourage and build up the church?

1 Thessalonians 5:11 exhorts us, as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, to ‘encourage one another and build each other up’. But what are the key ways to encourage and build up other believers in the church? Here, in no particular order, are a few ways.

Show up

It’s hard to encourage people when you are never with them. In fact, if you are continually away from the meetings of the gathered body, far from encouraging and building up the body, you are actively discouraging it. It is so disappointing when the preacher stands up to share God’s Word and people aren’t there because they couldn’t be bothered to get out of bed or they had better things to do than worship the living God and meet with his people. These things are a major discouragement. One of the key ways you can build up and encourage the church is by showing up to things.

Engage heartily

Showing up is absolutely vital, but engaging in what is going on when you are there is similarly encouraging. Of course, some of your engagement will depend on your particular church setup and liturgy. But in our church, we have participation from the congregation in the prayers, the songs and our time of testimony. Seeing people engage with enthusiasm in these things is encouraging. Hearing people singing the songs heartily, praying earnestly, sharing testimony of how the Lord has been at work in them, these will all encourage other believers.

Grow in maturity

Nothing encourages your elders more than seeing you grow in maturity and Christ-likeness. This is the ultimate fruit of engaging with the Word, engaging with the church, engaging with the commands of Christ. To see spiritual fruit develop in the lives of believers is evidence of the Spirit at work through the ordinary means of grace. Nothing will encourage other believers more than seeing the Spirit at work in you this way.

Prefer other’s needs above your own

Not only is it encouraging to see you grow in maturity, but the fruit of that maturity will lead you to prefer other’s needs above your own. It is always encouraging when you see or hear of people not insisting upon their own preferences for how things should be because they know doing it differently serves somebody else. Whether it is heartily singing some of the songs that aren’t your favourites or engaging enthusiastically with a study that is clearly slower than you might prefer because it incorporates people speaking English as a second language, seeing people gladly engage with these things because it serves others is deeply encouraging.

Be consistent

It is easy to do some of these things every now and then. But it is properly encouraging to see people doing them regularly and consistently. Making these things habits and ways of operating within the church. A little growth is encouraging, but seeing a consistent trajectory is so much more encouraging. Seeing somebody prefer someone else’s needs once is encouraging, but seeing them do so consistently is more encouraging still. Make these things habits and you will encourage other believers all the more.