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Our relationship muscles atrophy when we fail to exercise them. Church attendance falls off, volunteers are hard to come by, and a vague mode of indifference spreads. Diagnosis can range from weak commitment to boring services to rebellious attitudes.


How can we recapture the basics of discipleship? What can we do to shift our attention back to relating to God and to each other in engaging fellowship and mutual ministry?



Encouragement is the most basic level of discipleship. It’s the form of interaction that every Christ-follower should cultivate in order to help himself and others to grow. It’s the kind of expression that helps others want to be a better Christian, even when life is rough. Having a conversational ministry of encouragement is foundational to healthy relationships in your church, your organization and beyond. This workshop introduces the skillful, effective, Spirit-led use of our words in building up each other. (The following ten workshops represent an expansion of this workshop.)




One of the primary roles of encourage-ment is helping people be honest about where they’re at. This sometimes involves moving and speaking into the chaos (formlessness), the emptiness (void), and death (darkness) of our home, our ministry and our world. God offers us a model of encouragement and discipleship that flows out of Who He is as well as who man is as an image-bearer of God.





God created each of us to feel the impact of life, to make choices, to evaluate and think, and to long deeply for relationship. Adam’s fall greatly affected each aspect of his dignity as well as ours. We have inherited the propensity to respond like Adam when our dignity is damaged. A biblical understanding of how we reflect God’s image gives us a grid for taking opportunities around us to encourage.




How do we typically manage fears? The same way Adam and Eve handled theirs. We develop layers. A layer is whatever we do or don’t do which has as its purpose the protection of ourselves from what we fear. People can spend their entire lives behind their layers, selecting which one fits the occasion. A biblical encourager will be aware of ways we avoid rejection by “putting our best foot forward” through wearing protective layers designed to win approval.




Why did God give us emotions? How do our fears affect how we relate to others? How do we maintain our commitment to encourage others when we ourselves feel negative emotions? A biblical encourager will encourage others to identify what they are feeling about their situation as a natural first step in the process of self-examination.



Why do we preface so many of our activities with an attitude of I have to, or I can’t help it? We are constantly making choices every day of our lives . . . at two levels: behaviours and motives. The secret to contentment is the knowledge that, no matter what circumstances come my way, I am free to choose to walk the path of life. A biblical encourager will seek to invite people to enter the hard work of self-examination in order to identify the goals and vows beneath their behaviour.




How do we form our beliefs about God and ourselves and life? Since we are fallen we use our thinking capacity to maintain the fiction that life can work without God. Our images of ourselves and our world reduce confusion and therefore permit the illusion of independence to continue. A biblical encourager will seek to lead people to explore their belief system to identify and repent from the lies of their past that are supporting their vows.





Man in his right mind will pursue God as the source of satisfaction. But man is not in his right mind. When our determination to fill the Hollow Core becomes our tyrant we revolve our lives around whatever we believe will provide the fullness we desire. A biblical encourager will seek to lead people to deal with their core problem: a determination to make life work through drinking from their homemade, leaky wells instead of coming to Jesus for the life He promises.




Everything comes naturally except involvement. Our instinctive response to an annoying brother is irritation. We maintain a comfortable distance by withdrawing behind our layers. Involvement for most of us is like a cliff jump. A biblical encourager will take the risk of loving—moving toward another person without self-protection. Giving up self-protection means to repent of the arrogant idea that life is within our grasp.




To become an encourager, we must first identify our own manipulative layers and determine to pursue the goal of ministry. We must avoid responding in ways that communicate rejection and be sensitive to the other person’s needs. A biblical encourager will learn to use words for each opportunity that encourage a further sharing of what might be there and communicate an acceptance of whatever is there.





How do people really change? How can we draw out the heart? What are the four ways to listen to what people are telling you? How do you openly speak truth without communicating rejection? Encouragement occurs most effectively when opportunities are seized rather than created. Encourage-ment most often takes place during what appears to be very ordinary conversation. Learn how to open doors to offer life and true hope.




We are working harder, playing longer, buying more and enjoying life less. Our dissatisfaction and disillusionment reveal themselves in a variety of ways: physical tiredness and burnout, depression, frustration, even cynicism. Being with people can be exhausting. Understanding how people give and take can help us know where our spiritual energy goes and when we can anticipate our need to restore it. This workshop gives participants practical steps to escape the pervasive spiritual fatigue that settles into our lives and reopen the rivers of living water to quench our inner thirst.




Most every game is won or lost in the second half. It’s possible to make some mistakes in the first half and still have time to recover. It’s more difficult to do this in the second half. As you begin the second half of your life you should at least know who you are and have some understanding of the playing field (the world around you). Many don’t. Regardless of where you are in the game, discover how you can disregard the notion that the second half will never measure up to the first.