Being in the same church for twenty years truly illuminates the saying “being in it for the long haul.” As with all churches, ours has seen difficult times, sweet times, sad times, challenging times, divided times, and unified times. By the grace of God, we’re currently in a season of growth within a warm, happy church culture where body life is thriving. I’ve witnessed God’s hard but refining fire many times over the years and feel grateful for the blessings and answered prayers we’re experiencing now. Time to sit back and relax! Take our feet off the ministry gas pedal and coast for a while. I mean, what is there to do when peace and unity abound but to soak it all in and take a break, right? It sounds tempting, but we know better.

What encouragement do you give to a healthy church that seems to be pleasantly rolling along? It turns out, it’s the same encouragement that every church needs no matter what their situation is. It’s the same encouragement our church needed in every season through which the Lord brought us. A look at three churches in Scripture shows us the universal call to this command.

A Call to Steadfastness

To the messy church at Corinth, Paul writes, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58). This church was in chaos. So, after reminding them of the hope of the resurrection, Paul calls them to persevere and be steadfast in following Christ because their work will bring eternal results.

To the church in Thessalonica struggling with idleness, he encourages them to persevere and be steadfast and not grow weary in doing good, emphasizing personal responsibility and diligent service (2 Thess. 3:13).

To the confused church of Galatia (in danger of having their identity stolen by false teachers who would lead them away from simple faith in Christ), Paul warns them against losing heart and growing weary in well-doing, reminding them that a reward awaits those who persevere (Gal. 6:9). At the end of the letter, Paul calls them to take responsibility for one another and be steadfast in caring for the body of Christ.

Paul is telling these local churches that no matter the issues they’re facing, in peace or in turmoil, it’s always the right time to persevere in the Lord, in faithfulness, in service, in well-doing, in steadfastness. This is true for us as well. It doesn’t matter what our churches look like right now, what trial we’re facing, what fruit we’re seeing, from the first century until now, we’re all called to steadfastness.

Daily Steadfastness

So how can we fulfill Paul’s encouragement toward steadfastness and what might this look like? It’s a simple, focused, and even-keeled forward motion in our faith, no matter the day.

  • We praise God for the blessings we see in our churches, and we pray for the church, the leadership, and the individual families in it.
  • We read our Bibles. Knowing what God says about life and godliness is the foundation to steadfastness and the strength in perseverance.
  • We build relationships in the body of Christ. Steadfastness comes easier with fellowship, accountability, and examples of other godly believers.
  • We pursue peace. If there’s sin and conflict (and there will be), we overlook it, cover it with love, and if we truly cannot—we pursue reconciliation.
  • We serve our local church family as a living sacrifice. We bring the new moms a meal, even though four babies were born this month already. We work VBS for the tenth year in a row. We serve according to our gifts. We counsel, visit, clean, decorate, or teach Sunday school and Bible study because that’s what needs to be done. We show hospitality. And we keep showing up. We keep showing up at worship, at prayer meetings, at Bible studies, at fellowships, and in the lives of our church family.

In all these ways and more, we live out steadfastness in the day to day of church life. Just as a Christian’s joy can be found in the mundane of life, a Christian’s strength can be gained in the steadfast living of that life.

The Source of Steadfastness

The dictionary defines steadfast as “resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering.” I don’t think I need to mention just how hard (ok, impossible) it is to find this commitment within ourselves. So where does our strength to be this stalwart come from? How do we keep our hearts resolute when our church is thriving and peaceful and growing? How do we remain dutifully firm and unwavering when our church is plagued by distractions and trials? This strength comes not from within ourselves, but from without, from the Lord himself. It comes from the promise in Isaiah 33:6 that says, “And he [The Lord] will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge.” God himself gives us what we need to do what he calls us to do. When we find ourselves wavering and unsteady, Paul is there to remind us of our strength found in Christ. As he told the Thessalonians, “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ” (2 Thess. 3:5). He goes before us.

Dear church member, whether your church is in a season of sowing, a season of drought, or a season of bounty, Paul’s exhortation remains the same: pursue steadfastness in the strength of Christ.

Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash

Kerry Anderson

Kerry is the wife of Scotty Anderson, Associate Pastor for Family Ministry at Woodruff Road Presbyterian Church in Simpsonville SC, where they have served for the past 19 years. Their son, Clay Anderson, and wife Delaney, live in Charlotte, NC, where Clay just graduated from RTS and serves on the staff of Christ Covenant Church. Their daughter, Avery and husband, Noah, reside in Charleston, SC, and their youngest daughter, Grace, is 15.

Originally from Colorado Springs, CO, Kerry holds a degree in English from UCLA. Kerry and Scotty have been married for 28 years. Kerry enjoys good coffee, podcasts, reading, being active, and Clemson football. She loves her local church, serving as a Sunday school teacher, wedding coordinator, and middle school camp director. She teaches women of all ages, and is an occasional conference speaker as well.