February 10, 2021·Scott McBride
One of my most memorable recruiting experiences came at the end of high school. I was a pretty serious athlete in high school. Out of all the sports, track & field was where I really excelled, and it was my dream to run at my favorite school, the U of O. While I received an invitation to run for Oregon State, the University of Oregon never responded. I wanted to run there so badly that as an 18-year-old, I got up the guts to go into the assistant track coach’s office and ask what it would take to be a “walk-on.” The coach was less than enthusiastic about my times and potential and told me he wished he could charge me $100 just to apply. I was a little shocked and pretty disappointed, but decided it was time to hang up my spikes and focus on school. Maybe you’ve had an experience like that, where you weren’t recruited, weren’t hired, chosen or promoted.
I want to take a minute with you to look at a different kind of recruitment, one that makes a positive and eternal difference in our lives and the lives of those around us.
In our reading plan this week, we see Barnabas, who was an early leader from the Jerusalem church. He was being sent to Antioch to check on an unexpected, but growing church plant. Barnabas not only went to check in on the church, but he stayed with them and encouraged them as they followed Jesus. It was an exciting time for the growing church, but it was not without problems and they needed Barnabas. Barnabas had enough self-awareness and understanding of what the church needed that he made a strategic change with them. He reached out to expand their team and started recruiting leaders. He was a recruiter, a coach for this church in Antioch.
In Acts 11:25-26, Luke records one of Barnabas’ incredible recruitment trips:
So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.
Barnabas moved into a coaching role — he actively engaged in recruiting what Antioch needed. Barnabas believed in Saul and he believed in what God was doing in Saul’s life, so he got Saul to move and join him and the church in Antioch. Today, we read this and think, well of course, Saul (later renamed Paul, the writer of about half of the New Testament) was the Man! What a good catch or smart move, but at that point in his life, Saul was a man with way more failures than success. The idea of choosing a “long shot” was probably scary and risky for Barnabas personally. But Barnabas believed in Saul and what God was up to, so he helped set Saul up to make a Kingdom impact.
The Early Church was at a crossroads, and Barnabas realized it. Barnabas realized God’s mission required partnership and lots of it. He realized he couldn’t do it all. He needed help. The church needed help, so he reached out and recruited reinforcements, and because of his obedience and courage, God blessed their efforts to bring the Gospel to even more people.
We too are at a crossroads right now. Everything has been so different for us personally and for the church, but God is still the same. He has not changed. God still desires to partner with us to expand His Kingdom; to do so, we must also partner with others (even if it’s scary or risky). As we go into this next season, who do you see around you? Are you seeing the potential in others? Better yet, can you believe those around you have the potential to help expand God’s Kingdom here and now? Is there someone you need to invite in and bring in to help partner? We believe our church is in a season where we are looking to everyone to step up. We are calling out to anyone who will come and join the mission God has called us for, right now. We cannot sit back and expect that the people who do not know God are suddenly going to wake up and decide to come to church today. We need to make sure we’re fully equipped to disciple and equip others. We need to be the connectors. We need to show the world they do not have to be alone. Jesus “recruited” us to experience life unimagined, and then commissioned us to help others experience that new life.
My prayer for you is that you will deeply know you are recruited and chosen by God. I pray the Holy Spirit will give you eyes to see the people around you who need to take their next step in following Jesus. I pray you will hear what God is saying to you and to them, and you will be bold enough to reach out and invite them to take their next step. And, I invite you to pray, pray God will move on the hearts and minds of countless current and future disciples.
Pastor Scott McBride