Who doesn’t like to be encouraged on your faith journey?
I believe encouragement is one of the greatest benefits of doing life in community. When you’re feeling tired, down, stressed, overwhelmed, the encouraging words of a person who knows you is like thick blanket on a cold night—it warms you.
One of the most powerful times of encouragement I’ve ever experienced in community took place when I least expected it—on a short-term mission trip to Haiti last summer.
Our ministry team partnered with a young and growing mission organization called Global Orphan Project. During the day we visited their orphan villages spread throughout the impoverished nation and invested in the lives of the orphans. At night, we gathered to debrief about the day’s experiences and what God was doing in our hearts and minds.
That’s when it happened.
The leadership team from Global Orphan introduced our group to something they do to encourage one another. It’s called a bead ceremony.
Here’s how it works: There are four different colored beads. Each one stands for something specific—red represents risk, blue stands for leadership, white is for service, and green represents compassion. You grab the appropriate bead, walk over to the person who exhibited this virtue during the day, bless them with the bead, then briefly tell the story of how you witnessed the individual put the specific virtue into practice.
Each night, God used the bead ceremony to bring laughter, tears, and powerful feelings of gratitude for the different members of our group. The impact of a few words of encouragement was dramatic for each one of us. It caused us to see how God was at work in each other’s lives. It encouraged us to get out of our comfort zone and bless someone else with words that we rarely hear spoken in our frenetic, me-first culture.
This begs the question; couldn’t we put the bead ceremony into practice within our small group communities? Couldn’t we be intentional to offer specific words of encouragement to those we do life with week-after-week? Couldn’t we take the biblical exhortation (Hebrews 10:25) to encourage one another to an entirely different level than we’ve ever experienced before?
Give the bead ceremony a try. It just might be the words that you and the members of your group need to hear.