Please bear with the following illustration if you are not a Texas Longhorn fan, there will be a spiritual application made from all this, so bear with me. I am a college football fan and as anyone who knows me understands, the subject of my college football passion is the University of Texas Longhorns. This past couple of years I have been somewhat subdued in my vocal support of the ‘Horns because they have been suffering a period of down seasons since very nearly winning the National Championship in 2009. From that time to this, I have watched them go into decline. I have had to get used to how it feels when the team you are passionate about loses. It stinks. For several years, under the previous coach, it seemed that year after year things only got worse. The perception is that the head football coach had become complacent and his players underachieved because of a sense of entitlement they felt as being part of one the most storied football programs in college football. Whether that is true or not, I haven’t any idea, but that is the perception. The fact remains that the team was no longer competitive as it had been before. The problem was either that they were no longer recruiting the kind of players that could be successful at the college level or they were failing to develop them as players. Whatever the case, it eventually led to the firing of the coach.
This past season a new football coach was hired and immediately he brought drastic changes to the program. He kicked nine players off the team for various and unspecified reasons. He suspended several others for at least part of the season. One player was suspended eight games and another was suspended for the season. Also the team sustained two catastrophic injuries in the first game, the starting Quarterback was forced to “retire” from football due to a series of head injuries and the most experienced and best Offensive Lineman was injured resulting in the end of his football career. Texas was left with one of those over-hyped, under-developed recruits from the previous coaching staff as their starter at Quarterback. Though by all accounts he is a very nice young man, he is not college Quarterback material. And as a result, the team suffered one of its worst seasons and records in its storied history. In the last two games of the season Texas lost by a combined score of 70-17. Ouch! Looking just at the past record and the number of upper-classmen who will be leaving the team at the end of this year, there is not much reason for hope. Yet I have a reason to hope that next year things will be better and that the team is pointed in the right direction! Why? Read on friends…
So why am I writing all this? What’s with this ramble about the most and also least popular college football team in America? Recruiting! That’s what this post is about. The failure to recruit and develop good football players led to the team’s decline and was the reason so many players had to be dismissed on disciplinary grounds. The same is true when it comes to the decline in church membership experienced by many congregations of the Lord’s church! Recruiting failures! The Lord’s “team” (not the Dallas Cowboys)is in decline right now because we Christians, as His “recruiting staff” are falling down on the job and also because the few we are able to successfully recruit are not being developed into strong Christians. If this trend continues, the church may one day reach a point where we can no longer be the “pillar and ground of the truth” that we should be. (1 Tim 3:15) How do we fix this? Again, it is recruiting! Or evangelism as it is more Biblically referred to! The only way the church can grow numerically is through evangelism. The Great Commission was originally given to just twelve men! (Matt. 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16) Through those twelve men, the gospel was carried into the entire world! You and I, who are Christians today, are Christians because of how those twelve men, who lived and died over two thousand years ago, carried out that Great Commission! Twelve men with the entire world spread out before them and they did not shrink from that monumental task! Thank God for that. They were twelve men, empowered by the greatness of God, who became so great as recruiters that all Christians everywhere are the result of that recruiting effort. If the church today would “recruit” better and if we would develop those recruits into strong Christians through a God’s Word, the church can and will be strong in America as it once was.
So now I hope you understand why I bored you with my ramblings on about the Texas Longhorns… but I still didn’t answer why I find reason for hope next season. You can probably guess why, if you were to look at the national recruiting class rankings in any sports website. As of today, Texas has the number 8 overall recruiting ranking… What about the church’s recruiting ranking? Can each of us we do something to improve that rank? You bet we can!