26When he had come to Jerusalem, [Saul] attempted to join the disciples; and they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. 27But Barnabas took him, brought him to the apostles, and described for them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus. 28So he went in and out among them in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. (Acts 9:26-28)

As a chief persecutor of the church, it is not surprising that Paul wasn't too welcome among the disciples. Even though his conversion was real and God's hand was upon him, Paul needed some help in order to accomplish and become what God intended for him.

As a group:

1. Read the passage.
2. How was Barnabas an encouragement to both Paul and the disciples?
3. As an encourager, what concrete steps did Barnabas take?

Reflect individually or in small groups:

1. Who in your life has been an encourager?
2. Is there someone in your life (maybe another consistory member or your pastor) whom you need to encourage?
3. What would it mean for you to actively encourage that person?
4. Are there people in your congregation who need to be encouraged to pursue ministry?

Pray together, as a whole consistory. Sample prayer:

Lord, into the life of one of the greatest persecutors of the church you brought your grace. And at just the right time, you brought him encouragement. Help us never to undervalue the need to be encouraging--to one another, to pastor(s) _____, and to this congregation. Amen.