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If you read the Bible from cover to cover, you will discover God never called a leader to an easy task. As I mentioned yesterday, last week was a completely draining week for me as a leader. It was one of those weeks you ask the question, “Is this really worth it?”
I was so frustrated my wife was compelled to step in. She said, ““You are going to Johnny Hunt’s Men’s Conference this weekend. You have given and given and given to others and now you need someone to pour into you. I am sending you to this conference.”
My wife had great insight because after the Friday evening and Saturday morning sessions at First Baptist Church Woodstock (Ga), I was ready to re-engage in the leadership challenge. Everyone at FBCW poured into my life and replenished me.
I want to take a moment and share with you what made my time so replenishing. The following are 15 Practices Of Highly Encouraging Churches:
- Highly Encouraging Churches Have People Who Want To Pour Into Your Life – I arrived at the conference along with 4,000 other men. There were hundreds of volunteers stationed literally every few yards to serve me anyway they could. This is HUGE!!! I went to the conference to have someone pour into me and several people did BEFORE I ever entered the building.
- Highly Encouraging Churches Have Encouraging People – Encouraging is an identity, not a practice. This would appear to be obvious but churches must place their happiest people in high visibility positions to be encouraging.
- Highly Encouraging Churches Meet Your Physical Needs – I have attended dozens of conferences. As much as I love Chick-Fil-A box lunches and the Willow Creek food court, the steak dinner provided on Friday evening was the finest meal I have ever had at a conference.
- Highly Encouraging Churches Do Ministry With Excellence – Excellence tells attenders you are important and matter to them and God. Excellence tells people you were on their mind when you put the event together.
- Highly Encouraging Churches Promote Others – People who need encouraging should begin by focusing on others. Before he did anything else, Pastor Johnny opened the conference by spotlighting multiple ministries which helped make the event possible.
- Highly Encouraging Churches Touch Poverty – Haiti is the world’s most poverty stricken country and was frequently discussed. When you need encouraging remind yourself of those who are far, far worse off than you.
- Highly Encouraging Churches Have Accessible Leadership – God has given leaders an innate ability to lift up those who need encouraging. Many conference leaders are not accessible to the general public forfeiting this privilege. Pastors Johnny signed hundreds of books and took hundreds of pictures during breaks.
- Highly Encouraging Churches Are Growing In Influence – Pastor Johnny has a ministry to pastors and their wives called Timothy Barnabas. This conference/retreat experience had their greatest attendance in 2013. Pastors, if your wife needs encouraging you should click here for more information. I have been to this event several times and nothing ministers to pastors’ wives more.
- Highly Encouraging Churches Are Secure – One of the breakout sessions I attended was led by someone who attends a local church with a completely different ministry paradigm. Secure churches understand if you have the same theological stance, partnerships will allow more encouragement to take place.
- Highly Encouraging Churches Serve Women – FBC Woodstock has a strong ministry to single moms and widows. This once again was putting the focus on someone other than yourself.
- Highly Encouraging Churches Give 2nd Chances – In combat it is hard for the wounded to help the wounded. Encouraging churches remind you failure is not final. Encouraging churches remind you of the responsibility and consequences of your actions but also give you the confidence and courage needed to move forward and be a difference maker in the lives of others.
- Highly Encouraging Churches Are Vulnerable – As Christian leaders we are on a common journey. When leaders discuss life’s challenges, it encourages others because you are reminded you are not alone.
- Highly Encouraging Churches Are Not Perfect – Pastor Johnny shared story after story of failures and mistakes he has made. I want to thank him for this. His personal story inspires, lifts up, and gives others the strength to move forward and become the leader God has called them to be.
- Highly Encouraging Churches Are Addicted To Changed Lives – Stories of life change are encouraging because if God can do what He did in someone else’s life, He can do it in yours.
- Highly Encouraging Churches Point People To Jesus – Dozens of men accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior during the conference. At the end of the day, leadership is not about us but about the story God wants to tell about the love of His Son through human life at this point and time in human history.
If your church practices these 15 items, you are encouraging hundreds, maybe thousands of lives. Keep up the great work! You are desperately needed.