This mark of discipleship is one of the seven faith practices highlighted in the ELCA's Call to Discipleship. Beyond the initial actions of welcoming people into the community are the ministries of friendship and support. Encouragement is the cluster of friendly attitudes and actions that forge relationships, building a diverse set of people into a community in Christ. Jesus promises to make community with us (Matthew 18:20).
Encouragement makes it possible to cross lines of race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, politics, economic class, educational level and generation. Common social skills are transformed by the presence of the Holy One into acts of discipleship whereby the body of Christ is continually built up and strengthened for mission and ministry.