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Guest Blogger: Jason Helopoulos

There are few epitaphs I would rather have engraved on my tombstone than Paul’s words of commendation to Philemon, “the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you” (Philemon 1:7). Oh, how I love Philemons and want to consistently be one!

It has been my pleasure to serve in the local church with some individuals that are truly “refreshing” to the saints. When you meet them, you know it! They are like an oasis in the midst of a desert. I walk away feeling encouraged, joyful, and spiritually stimulated. Unfortunately, they are an endangered species and much harder to find than should be the case.

I routinely examine myself by asking, “Do others consider me refreshing?” I wish that I could more routinely answer, “Yes.” I challenge you to ask yourself that same question and answer it honestly. I wonder, what would it be like if even one in ten of us were striving to be a refreshment to others in the local church? If that was part of our ministry aim, what kind of significant impact could that have upon our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ?

How do you refresh the hearts of the saints? It is only possible by one who knows the love and grace of Christ in such a way that it overflows to those around them. It is consistently present and abundantly evident. As I have inquired of those who I find to be such a refreshment to my own soul, they almost always testify that this gift, which they manifest, is something that they have deliberately sought to develop and nurture. Here are twenty practical ways that you can seek to nurture this refreshing gift in the midst of your own local church.

  • Greet people on Sunday mornings with a smile. It is o.k. to let your face say that you are “happy” to be at church. Go out of your way to say, “Hi,” ask questions about the lives of others, and listen attentively.
  • Visit the widows and shut-ins of your church. Take an afternoon and visit three or four. Sit, talk, listen, and be willing to look at their photo albums—all of them (1 Timothy 5:3)!
  • Have a mouth that is overflowing with grace (Ephesians 4:29) and is slow to wander down any other road.
  • Show up each Sunday morning with a mental list of three or four people that you are going to find and minister to (Philippians 2:4). Many of us walk into church with an attitude of, “I wonder who will minister to me today.” Nothing can be as drastically encouraging to a local church’s membership than a people united in the understanding that they are there to serve and love one another.
  • Be a Monday morning encourager instead of a Monday morning critic by sending your pastor an email detailing what you appreciated about his Sunday sermon.
  • Don’t rush out of church on Sunday mornings. Be one of the last to leave because you are taking the time to talk with everyone you can (this will be hard for the introvert—but some of the most engaging and refreshing people I have served with are introverts. They wear themselves out on Sunday morning). The football games and lunch will be there fifteen or thirty minutes later.
  • Often remind others of the benefits of salvation and the graces that flow from union with Christ. Let it season your conversations.
  • Routinely have a crock-pot meal or roast cooking on Sundays and spontaneously invite a visiting family or family-in-need for supper following the service.
  • Seek out those visiting the church, get to know them, and introduce them to others. Find connections and be a networker to the glory of God.
  • Aim to remember peoples’ names and greet them by name each Sunday (I wish I was better at this, because it means so much to people). The Cheers’ theme song had a point, we all feel loved when our name is known (Isaiah 49:16).
  • Refuse to speak ill of others in the congregation (Ephesians 4:31).
  • Get to know the children of the congregation and seek to talk to five different children each Sunday morning (Matthew 19:14).
  • Know the Word and season your conversations with it. This isn’t to impress others, but rather to encourage them in the faith. The Word does not return void (Isaiah 55:11).
  • Write and mail anonymous encouragement notes to members of the congregation. Why are we so hesitant to pass out encouragement? We can never encourage others too much (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
  • Always speak the truth with others (Ephesians 4:25). “Let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no.” (James 5:12).
  • Ask the pastor if there is anything you can do to help him during the week and be willing to do it.
  • Refuse to listen to gossip or be a purveyor of it (2 Corinthians 12:20).
  • Willingly bear the burdens of others in the congregation (Galatians 6:2). This means praying for them, serving them, giving financially to help those in need, loving when love is not returned, and being quick to forgive.
  • Write thank you notes to volunteers in the church.
  • Rejoice in the Lord and lead others to do the same by your example (Philippians 4:4). Don’t be an agitator, complainer, or “negative-Nelly.” This doesn’t mean we are seeking to be Pollyannish, but rather simply rejoicing in the many benefits we have as those united with the Living God by the blood of the Son.

Don’t you love spiritually refreshing people? When we find them, we tend not to let them go—and for good reason. If we value this trait so much in others, is it not worth nurturing and encouraging in ourselves? It takes a little effort, a little self-denial, and a little grace, but all those around you will say it was well worth it. Dare to be a Philemon!

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18 thoughts on “20 Ways to be Refreshing in the Local Church”

  1. Mbdean says:

    i would add be willing to volunteer and serve with a cheerful attitude. It’s so refreshing to have nursery volunteers and people running the av equipment who really see it as a privilege to be a part of what God is doing at their church on a Sunday morning!

  2. Sara says:

    And I would add, fight the temptation to make conversations about you and your past experience, wisdom or knowledge. Just listen, seek to understand the other person, you don’t always have to relate a similar situation you’ve been through. People who listen just to offer advice are not refreshing, they are draining, and betray their self – proclaimed caring spirit by not actually listening at all.

  3. Cyndee says:

    Having moving twice in the last 3 years “Seek out those visiting the church, get to know them, and introduce them to others. Find connections and be a networker to the glory of God.” can make or break a church visitor’s experience. We have had more “bad” experiences than “good”. Three Sunday school class visits with no acknowledgement that we were new. Were shocked the teachers didn’t even reach out to us… I know it’s uncomfortable to approach folks, especially in a big church, but “I don’t think we’ve met before” goes a long way…

    Thanks for sharing such a great list!

  4. Sheila says:

    Ooh, would love to pin this but no image appears. Thanks for the great ideas.

  5. Ericka says:

    all the time i used to read smaller articles or reviews that
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  6. Laurie says:

    These are wonderful suggestions. If you are in a low place however and cannot smile please do not stay home. That is the time you may be ministered to by others.

  7. This is ridiculously good. Bookmarked and sent to my elders. Convicting, encouraging, extremely useful. Thanks so much.

  8. Linda says:

    I think one of the best attitudes one can take to church with them is “how can I bless and/or serve others?” When we develop a selfless attitude that looks outward instead of inward, we will be blessed with a joyful heart. It took me years to understand this, and I can testify that it’s a much better way of life!

  9. Bill Pence says:

    I’m an elder at my church. I really appreciated these suggestions and plan to link to this article on my blog. Blessings!

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  11. Melody says:

    You note that talking to people on Sunday morning will be a stretch for introverts – it’s true and it’s never something I’m going to do well. But you also listed a couple great introvert-friendly things. Thank-you notes to volunteers? Yes. Anonymous notes of encouragement? Heck yes. Praying for other congregants? Absolutely.

  12. Jim Parris says:

    You were such a “refresher” to us this past summer when we visited your church. You walked up to these total strangers from afar with welcoming questions, introducing yourself in the manner of your first bullet point. Jason, that single act put a good taste in our souls, and was a highlight of the day. In our estimation. strong as the preaching was, the greeting put us in a home setting where we could also experience a sense of the community being taught in the pulpit. Thanks, and I’ve forwarded this piece to some good friends.

  13. Tyler Rody says:

    This is a fantastic article. And I would encourage those who read it to apply it to their own lives before passing it along and expecting others to live like this. I find it too easy to think, “I don’t need to change, but my board or leaders or friends, they need this more than I do.”

  14. Keith says:

    Jason/Kevin, may I have your permission to reprint this in one of our church’s publications? Of course, with proper attribution. This is a great word of challenge for me and I’d like to share it with our church family, many of whom naturally minister in these ways. I believe it will serve as an encouragement to them and a nudge to others.

  15. Excellent write-up. I absolutely love this website.
    Continue the good work!

  16. James says:

    Thanks for the article. What is the context for giving anonymous notes? I have always thought that it would be more comfortable for someone to receive a signed note.

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