A Heart of Encouragement

By Eric Wenger   |  February 1, 2017

Please allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Eric Wenger.  I serve as the Lead Pastor with RAIZED, a mission plant, in Green Bay, Wisconsin. 

RAIZED is a congregation that greatly values mission partnerships.  That value is seen through their encouragement for me to stay active in church planting and coaching.  Their support has made it possible for me to share leadership in The 2:47 Network, which is a growing church planting network.  In addition, our partnership with C4USM has now moved forward to the point that I am serving as Director of Mission Coaching.        

My relationship with C4USM started in 2004 when I participated in church planter training.  The training was so valuable that I continued to consider new ways to stay connected with C4USM.  One particular opportunity that grabbed my attention was Mission Coach Certification Training.  I started training in 2008, and I’ve been engaged in coaching ever since.  My Mission Coach Training has opened doors for coaching, coach-training, and coach-mentoring for the last nine years. 

One Scriptural insight from our coaching text, Coaching 101 by Robert E. Logan and Sherilyn Carlton, has been particularly influential in my coaching journey.  “The Barnabas Factor” is what the authors call it.  The teaching on Barnabas has reignited my fire for the importance of receiving and giving encouragement.

I truly believe that Christ-centered coaching comes from a heart of encouragement.  Coaching is coming alongside and drawing out what God has already given.  Barnabas was gifted as a coach.  His work with Paul is a great example.  My coach, Mike Ruhl, pointed out highlights from the Acts text whenever possible.  Here are some specific examples: 

  • Acts 4: 36 - Barnabas means “son of encouragement.”
  • Acts 9:20-31 - Saul tries to join the disciples, but they are too afraid to let him join them.  Barnabas saw gifts in Saul and helped position him for mission work.
  • Acts 11:19-25 - Barnabas is in Antioch helping the new believers.  He believed in God’s plan for them and encouraged them to keep following Christ.  Barnabas remembers Saul, goes to find him, and brings him to Antioch.
  • Acts 13:9-12 - Up to this point, the men are referred to as Barnabas and Paul.  Elymas the sorcerer gives them trouble, and Paul steps in and confronts him.  This is the first time since Paul's conversion that he takes charge.  After this point they are referred to as "Paul and Barnabas."
  • Acts 13:42-52 - Barnabas has guided, mentored, and coached Paul.  Paul now takes a prominent position and Barnabas stays with him even during difficult times.
  • Acts 15:36-40 - Paul and Barnabas argue about John Mark--Barnabas wants to take him, Paul doesn't.  They part ways, and Barnabas continues his coaching role of raising others like John Mark up as mission leaders.
  • Acts 16:1-3 - Paul begins to mentor and coach Timothy, which continues the mission movement.  He now becomes a “Barnabas.”

Barnabas is a great example of how the Holy Spirit works through faithful and encouraging Christ followers to make disciples who make disciples.  Being a “Barnabas” to other people continues to be of great importance in this day and age.  A heart of encouragement in Christ is a gift from God that is meant to be shared.

“When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.  He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord” (Acts 11:23-24, NIV).

Christ-centered coaches demonstrate a heart of encouragement.  It has been fun raising up new coaches with C4USM.  I’m excited to be part of the next wave of coaching with you and C4USM

Moment Extras

Questions for Discussion

1.  What person has been a “Barnabas” in your life?  How has that person specifically encouraged you?

2.  Where do you currently need encouragement in your life?  How could a coach be beneficial to your continued growth?

3.  What person has God placed in your life who could gain value from a coaching relationship with you?  What steps will you take to build up that relationship?

4.  What skills do you need to work on in order to grow in your coaching ability?  What will you do next to pursue growth in your coaching skills?

Resources You Can Use

Robert Logan and Sherilynn Carlton, authors of Coaching 101, say, "God-centered coaching has the power to change lives...both your life and the lives of those you come into contact with."


Mission Moments is the e-newsletter sent by the Center for U.S. Missions to bring information and encouragement to all who desire to share God's great love in Jesus Christ with others. Permission is given to copy this article for distribution within your congregation or organization. Please credit the author and the Center for United States Missions. For more information contact the Center at (952)-221-0362, or visit our website: www.c4usm.org

Center for U.S. Missions – Contact Information

Email us at: | Rev. Dr. Peter Meier, Executive Director; peter.meier@cui.edu  | Rev. Eric Wenger, Director of Mission Coaching; ewenger@livingraized.com| Kathy Meier, Coordinator; kathy.meier@cui.edu  | Mil Behnken, Office Manager; mildred.behnken@cui.edu