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How To Mobilize People To Go To Another Level

If you follow Jesus and are making him Lord of your life, then someone somewhere along the line mobilized you. Somebody helped get you to this place you are at with God. Pete Willson was a man who mobilized me. I was in a bad place in 1975 – a depressed high school student. Willson was the w…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
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If you follow Jesus and are making him Lord of your life, then someone somewhere along the line mobilized you. Somebody helped get you to this place you are at with God.

Pete Willson was a man who mobilized me. I was in a bad place in 1975 – a depressed high school student. Willson was the wrestling coach at Wheaton College. He saw more in me than I saw in myself. He saw my skills as a wrestler and asked me to come wrestle at Wheaton. 

If he hadn’t reached out to me, who knows what my life would look like. He changed the course of my life both by mobilizing me, and later, by discipling me.

As 2017 drew to a close, Willson himself went to another level, having run his race, having finished his course. His was a life well-lived. I’m in his debt and give thanks to God that Willson knew how to mobilize.

Fishing for hearts

Jesus said he would make his disciples “fishers of men.” He was always fishing for the hearts of men and women. He would show them a glimpse of the kingdom and woo them to consider a spiritual universe led by a loving God – a place they couldn’t see but where they belonged.

Jesus was looking for people with a hunger for more. And he shared what more could look like for them. 

I think Jesus wants to teach us to fish. Jesus is still calling his disciples to go looking in places where people have hidden their hearts.

He wants to help us transition from an understanding of evangelism as one conversation about the Gospel to a series of conversations that might develop into a relationship where we show others the kingdom and their place in it.

That relationship is marked by intentionality for three or more years, moving from an initiate on a journey, to an apprentice, to eventually a role as a partner in the Gospel.

Practical steps

I was reading this LinkedIn report on best practices in recruiting. It’s a modern day business-focused report, but it has a lot of great ideas for how we can go fishing. God has given you a fishing pond full of hungry fish. Where is it and how do you fish?

It’s time we learned how to become expert fishermen, fishing for hearts. Some of us need to start by going on a few fishing expeditions.

The fish:

The first thing to do when fishing is to understand what kind of fish you are looking for. I call the ones I look for “goers.” They are hungry and they are looking to find food.

Rashidat Odeyemi is a good example of what that looked like last year. I saw a young woman who was confident enough to lead with vulnerability on her World Race. She regularly showed up and did the hard work of a person hungry for more of kingdom life.

And Uche Izuora is an example of what it looked like a decade ago. It started out with him just reading my blog. But over time it morphed into marriage counseling, advice-giving, and hanging out with our families in my house. Years later, Uche and I regularly communicate though he lives in Africa. I’m deeply committed to his work helping South Sudanese refugees living in Uganda.

The place: 

I am regularly looking for fishing holes – places where goers tend to congregate. There are some physical places where people will open up and talk about their hearts. Bars are a good place. The World Race is a great place. Very different places where people are looking for connection.

One virtual place I like to go fishing is on people’s blogs. I find that some folks are more likely to be vulnerable there.

And when a hungry fish bites, I am prepared to either pass them on to someone who is better equipped to disciple them, or else to dig in for at least three years of relationship.

The bait: 

One great piece of “bait” is the opportunity to experience adventure. It’s one reason the World Race is successful – it offers all kinds of new experiences.

Another thing people look for is community and connection. If you can offer them a safe place to perhaps connect, it’s awesome. I am starting a poetry reading group for middle-aged men at a local hangout on the town square. We will be there again this afternoon at 5pm.

The ministry of mobilizing, of helping people go to the next level, is a great one. It’s one Jesus ordained – a call he gave to his disciples.

If you are interested in fishing for hearts, I’d be happy to help you. I’m committed to live a life that has the fruit of Pete Willson. What a great example to follow.

Comments (8)

  • David Tetteh Dameh

    I am highly impressed by the above article, I now understand that to become a fisher of men , you must know the type of net for a specific fish, time of casting the net , .I also learn that while catching the fish we should know when to mend the net and time to changed it .infarct a lot of lesson are in this article.

  • Amen. I definitely desire some instruction Seth. I know this speaks to me. This reminds me of casting seeds onto the soil/ ground. What kind of ground are we putting/ planting our seeds on? Fertile ground, rocky ground? Then there are different places where this ground can be. Different cultures. Different countries. Different cities. Different spiritual localities where those who have gone before us have also fertilized and plowed the ground.

    • Amen, Sandy – let’s think about how to rescue the perishing. They are all around us and God has given us the mandate. The time is short.

  • Hey Seth. Thanks for catching me and walking with me.

    Lately, I am really in awe of what you have accomplished. I am leading a prison ministry team at my church, and I am finding that leadership is really hard sometimes. It seems that the group I have, or at least key members of the group, have no desire for community and no desire for vulnerability. They just want to come in, do their concept of ministry, and go home. I don’t know what to do with that. The concepts of vulnerability and community have become so ingrained in me that I don’t know how to do anything else, not do I really want to.

    I am amazed at how you have inspired a generation to dive into life together. I am praying for Divine inspiration or a new vision. I don’t know what else to do.

  • Aw, thanks, Kim. That means a lot. You are an encouragement!

    All I ever did was put one foot in front of the other and try to see the good and giftings in others.

    I love what you are doing! You are a hero to those that society has put on the shelf. I have an idea for you that may be helpful. Recently I have been impressed by this ministry https://defyventures.org/ and by its founder, Cat Hoke. She is a dynamo with a great track record. I recommend reading her new book that relates her story. Let me know what you think. And consider going thru their training and starting a branch of their ministry.

  • Dear Kim

    I hear you. This generation is so disconnected. Vulnerability is a thing many have never experienced. Service without vulnerability and transparency is so dry and feels dead and rote. I pray God will break through using your fire inside and your example. May the hearts become softened and let it start with even 1 or 2 others and let it grow O God!!

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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