One of the most looked over figures in the entire Bible is the man known as Barnabas. We are first introduced to him in Acts 4, where he generously sells property and land as resources for the church.
He is first called Joseph, a Levite of Cyprus, only to be known from this point forward as Barnabas. The name means “Son of Encouragement.” This name change is a marker of the legacy he left with the church.
In fact, in the developmental chapters of Acts, Barnabas will play a pivotal role in the controversial inclusion of a new member, the former predator of the church, Saul of Tarsus. Barnabas lives up to this moniker of encouragement by the way that he invests time in the new convert, equipping and empowering him to live out God’s calling, and becoming a collaborative sojourner in the work of the church.
We would probably not know the name Paul today, the writer of 2/3 of the New Testament, if it were not for the man of encouragement, Barnabas.
When I look back over the critical formational figures of my life, I see a lot of Barnabases. Specifically, I think about Bill and Mary Lou Booth, who were paired with me as prayer partners when I was in sixth grade. Did you know that to this day, Bill and Mary Lou make some sort of connection with me once a month to provide a word of encouragement.
We are developing a Barnabas Project that focuses on connecting younger members with older members with the goal of intergenerational relationships of encouragement.
We recognize that it is tough to know everyone in the church, let alone those who are not in your Sunday Spiritual Formation group, age range, or ministry groups. Therefore, we are considering what it would look like to thoughtfully connect members from across an age divide.
The Barnabas Project is not intended to add one more thing to an already active church vision. Instead, we hope that those connected through the Barnabas Project will have two intentional touches per month. The first touch would be a deliberate gathering once per month, either over a meal or sitting down together during the 10:00 am Sunday Coffee & Community hour. The second touch would be simply a physical note or email to exchange words of encouragement and prayer. Each pairing would also be encouraged to spend time once per week praying specifically for their partner.
If you are interested in pairing with someone of a different age within the congregation, whether as an individual, couple, or family, please contact Deb McElgin (firstname.lastname@example.org) or contact the office.