Having the internet at your fingertips gives you access to a 24-hour cycle of information. Most people alive today have the opportunity to be better informed about what's going on in the world than ever before in history.
This privilege comes with some drawbacks, though. People who keep up with the news often feel bogged down by the weight of all the bad things happening around them. These feelings can lead to a sense of helplessness and isolation. The church, however, can spread hope to those who feel discouraged about the world and their place in it.
Leadership training on how to motivate and show appreciation to workers is a booming industry for a reason. Everyone likes to be recognized and appreciated for the work they do, and they want to know that their efforts matter. The volunteers at your church are no exception. In fact, since volunteer tasks tend to be more loosely defined than the average job description, it may take an extra dose of appreciation for them to know their work makes a difference.
There are several ways you can show that you notice and appreciate the work the congregation does, and it's important to be aware that not everyone likes to be recognized in the same way. Praising them in front of the whole church may be more embarrassing than uplifting to quieter members. Fortunately, there are many ways you can encourage volunteers and boost their hope:
- Thank-you notes
- Newsletter article about their team
- Small gifts or tokens of appreciation
- Phone calls or text messages to check in
Another way to spread hope is through support. When things are going well in their lives, members may not ask for a lot from your church. If they experience a crisis, however, they need to know that they can turn to the church for support.
Support can take many forms. Start a fund for people in need so that your church is ready to help people who experience sudden financial problems. Small groups that minister to specific populations, such as those with addictions or experiencing divorce or grief, are essential to the work of the church. Having a place to go for support helps people maintain hope when life isn't perfect.
Another powerful tool the church can wield to spread hope is accepting people as they are. Sometimes, faith communities find it difficult to separate their religious ideals from the realities of humanity. Instead of viewing moral standards as goals to aspire to, they turn them into rules that people must follow in order to be a part of the church. Ironically, their rigid dogma ends up being the reason they miss the mark on God's most important commandment, which is love.
Practicing radical acceptance helps the church extend hope, especially to those who have been rejected in other areas of their lives. Making the commitment to be a place where the outcasts and oppressed can come to be loved just as they are is one of the best ways to mimic how God accepts them.
Many people feel hopeless simply because they haven't found their place in the world. Offering connection and meaningful relationships can help them establish a sense of belonging. The church is more than just a weekly worship service. You can offer opportunities for members to get to know each other and invite others to join throughout the week.
The neverending news cycle doesn't always paint an inspiring picture of the world. The church is in a unique position to tell a different story that spreads hope and gives people a space to make the world a better place.