“Be A Barnabas” (Acts 4:33-37)

By | May 2, 2010

Reaching Out Without Passing Out #1

     I’ve had my share of encounters with Evangelism Linebackers and personally I think their approach is a little too aggressive, shall we say. This morning we begin a series dealing with much less aggressive approach to evangelism titled Reaching Out Without Passing Out. I’ve found and developed some very simple, non-threatening (to both you or the other person) and practical ways to facilitate sharing our faith. That’s our main task as a Church and as Christians. We just need to learn how. I promise, we don’t have an Evangelism Linebacker. But I do know where to rent one.



     Years ago, in Reader’s Digest, I remember reading about a soldier, Corporal Jones, who after his tour of duty overseas was sent to a stateside induction center where he advised new recruits about their government benefits, especially GI insurance. It didn’t take long for him to have the best sales record, not just in the area, but in the nation, almost 100%. His officers in his chain of command were amazed.

     Rather than ask him how he did it, one of the officers stood in the back of the room one day and listened to Jones’ sales pitch. Jones explained the basics of GI insurance to the new recruits and then said, “If you have GI insurance, and go into battle and are killed the government has to pay $35,000 to your beneficiaries. If you don’t have GI insurance, and go into battle and are killed, the government has to pay only a maximum of $3000.” 

     He concluded, “Now which bunch do you think they are going to be sent into battle first?”

     We all need some kind of motivation from time to time, don’t we. That as pretty creative. I hope you find this series motivating.

     Last week we talked about our first call, our marching orders, so to speak. Jesus made sure they were simple and perfectly clear. You know them and you could probably recite them by heart. Matthew 28:19-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

     That’s what we’re called to do. First and foremost, we’re called to spread the Good News. Tell the story. Tell our story. Evangelize. Reach Out. However you want to put it. But whenever we start talking about it people freeze up and freak out. So, I want us to look at some ways of  Reaching Out Without Passing Out.

     God created us to be in community, to be in relationship with God and one another. And one of the things people in community and people who are family do, is encourage one another. You’d be surprised how much motivation comes from simply getting a little encouragement.

     And that brings us to the person who is the inspiration behind today’s sermon. Barnabas. Let’s look at the passage from Acts 4:33-37


     A. His name was really Joseph. Barnabas was a nickname given to him by the Apostles and the Christian community. In the passage we learn that Barnabas means “Son of encouragement.”  He was a blessing wherever he went. And everyone recognized that. And it held true in all of his life and ministry.

     As we read further in Acts, we see Barnabas was the one who introduced Paul to the Apostles in Jerusalem when they didn’t want to have anything to do with him. Paul was the great persecutor. But Barnabas had heard Paul preach Jesus with great power while in Damascus. Barnabas used his status and influence to tell Paul’s story and tear down the walls of suspicion, so Paul could be accepted. AND so the early church could hear and be touched by the power of  Paul’s preaching.

     And if any introduction ever paid off, iIt was this one. We all know how incredibly successful Paul was in spreading the Gospel and starting churches.

     Barnabas also accompanied Paul on several Missionary journeys.

     Acts 11 recounts how people in Antioch began to believe and Barnabas was sent to help them get a church started. Verses 23-24 read: “When he came and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast devotion; for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were brought to the Lord.”  

     B. So, what can we learn from Barnabas. We have to remember that Evangelism isn’t about us. It isn’t about how we feel. It isn’t about our comfort. It’s about the Good News that God has for people who don’t know God’s love. It’s Good News. That means it’s encouraging news. And if anything, what we learn from Barnabas is that we can ALL be Sons and Daughters of encouragement.

     We can be practicing Evangelists even while we sit in our pews on Sunday morning. We can “Reach Out Without Passing Out.”  Want to know how? I’m glad you asked that questions.


     A. Barnabas Cards: Today I want to introduce something I’ve used in several churches. It’s been so long that I don’t remember whether it was my idea or someone else’s. All I know is it works.

     They’re called Barnabas Cards. One of the things Paul writes in Hebrews is “And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds.” Hebrews 10:25. And that’s exactly what these cards are designed to do. And here’s how they work.

     Suppose the music was particularly moving or a hymn we sang touched you and lifted your spirits. Or maybe you’ve noticed that someone hasn’t been here in awhile and you’ve thought to yourself, I need to call them. Or maybe you have friend who we lifted in prayer or there is someone in the church who needs to know you prayed for them. You simply pick up one of these Barnabas Cards. Write your note, address it and drop it in the offering plate. Monday morning, Aly will mail them out.

     Make sure you put the address on them, especially for folks whose address we might not have.

     Now isn’t that a simple way of expressing your love for Christ and your love for that person. And just think what an impact it will have on someone who isn’t attending, if you send them a card saying, “God brought you to mind Sunday while I was at church, so I said a little prayer asking God to bless you and your family. We’d love to have you join us next Sunday as our guests.”

     Bam. You’ve been a Barnabas and an Evangelist all with the flick of a pen.

     B. FRAN: Another way to be a Barnabas is by remembering FRAN. I know you’re thinking FRAN who’s that. It’s an acronym which stands for that circle of family and acquaintances to whom you can write. FRAN stands for: Friends, Relatives, Acquaintances and Neighbors.

     You can be a Barnabas by sending Friends, Relatives, Acquaintances and Neighbors a note of encouragement and adding an invitation for them to worship with you. It’s almost too easy isn’t it.

     C. And you can also be a Barnabas simply by remembering that no matter where you go, Christ goes with you. Through the power and presence of God’s Holy Spirit, Jesus is your constant companion. All you have to do is show it in all you do. It’s not enough to claim to be a Christian if your lifestyle and actions say the opposite.

     I ran across a video that I think really sums up what being a Barnabas, and son or daughter of encouragement, is all about. WATCH

     Being a Barnabas is a non-threatening way of being the Christ for others.

     The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 2:1-5 (NRSV)
[1] If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy,
[2] make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
[3] Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.
[4] Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.
[5] Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

     Being a Barnabas is standing vigilance for someone else. It’s the pat on the back when someone needs it the most. It’s that kind word at unexepcted times. It’s that 2 second prayer of encouragement which simply says, “Don’t forget, God loves you, Don’t forget, God is with you, always.” It’s a gentle reminder that we can all give to each other and to our Friends, Relatives, Acquaintances and Neighbors..


     Being a Barnabas is also about living an inviting lifestyle. This story was told by the wife of a truck driver and it illustrates the spirit of being a Barnabas.

     “My husband is a tractor-trailer driver and he dreads runs to New York City. His greatest fear was realized one day when his rig broke down on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. At 4:30 p.m., after he had been waiting for assistance for over an hour, a police car stopped and the officer called a tow truck for my husband.

     More hours passed. Then at 8:30 a young man stopped his car and walked over to the truck. He handed my husband a white bag with the familiar golden arches and said, ‘I saw you here about four o’clock, and I saw that you were still here when I went by again a half-hour ago. I thought you might be hungry by now.’ With that he gave my husband the bag and drove away. The tow truck got there a little before 10 p.m.” (1)

     That’s being a Barnabas, that’s being an encourager. The Dave Matthews Band has a song and in the lyrics they sing, “I’ll lean on you and you lean on me and we’ll be okay.”  That’s the spirit of being a Barnabas. That’s the spirit of being a Son or Daughter of encouragement. And when we live like that, it changes lives.

     We’re called to be like Barnabas and be Sons and Daughters of Encouragement. And that encouragement is needed. There are so many people whose outlook on life is negative. They’ve been wounded or alienated. There are folks who think no one cares, not even God.

     There are folks who are consumed with guilt and they don’t know where to turn.

     You and I have great news. We have the Good News of a God who is loving and forgiving. We have the Good News of Savior who can give us meaning and purpose in life. We have the Good News. But how will others hear it if we don’t share it and be encouragers.

     Be a Barnabas. Be a Son of Daughter of Encouragement.


This is the Word of the Lord for this day.



1.   Parables, Etc. (Saratoga Press, P.O. Box 8, Platteville, CO, 80651; 970-785-2990), August 1982