How was church on Sunday? Challenging and encouraging? Actually, I was really encouraged and challenged by the sermon tonight / that article / bible study / doing one-to-ones / the conference / the mission week / that passage. Whatever it was, it was Both Challenging And Encouraging.
Actually it seems like everyone is challenging and encouraging us at the moment.
Men’s Katoomba Convention ‘teaching, challenging and encouraging since 1997′
Equip ministries ‘refreshing, encouraging, challenging, inspiring’
The Briefing ‘challenging convictions, encouraging ministry’
Anglican Education Commission ‘exists to support, encourage and challenge Christians involved in learning and teaching’
TEAR Australia ‘encouraging, challenging, teaching, networking and resourcing to make biblically-shaped responses to poverty and injustice’
The Bible Society ‘is encouraging all Christians to take up the challenge of reading their Bible every day’
Micah Challenge seeks to ‘encourage Christians to walk humbly with God and seek His heart for people in poverty.’
MTS ‘Be encouraged. Be challenged. Be spurred on to live a life worth of the calling you have received.’
An interesting variation is AP Magazine which aims ‘to encourage and strengthen believers in the faith and challenge non-believers to examine the claims of Jesus Christ.’ They seem to think challenging is for non-Christians.
We evangelicals have a very encouraging and challenging subculture (I am noticing a trend, however, towards ‘inspiring and equipping’). It’s a bit of a cliche. So what?
The New Testament doesn’t talk about ‘challenging’ us, it talks about ‘correcting, rebuking and encouraging.’ Is that the same as challenging?
What does it tell us about ourselves that the highest praise we offer is ‘challenging and encouraging,’ that every sermon seeks to be ‘challenging and encouraging’? Are we addicted to a weekly challenge and relieved by the encouragement which follows? Is it our activist heritage coming through? We love a challenge.
Is it a good thing? Is it Biblical? Is it helpful? It could just be that we’re a little unimaginative. What does it reveal about our attitudes, hopes and expectations?
I’d love to hear your thoughts. More to come.