Some people are successful fishermen while others, like me, aren’t.
I quit fishing decades ago having realized that the one time I caught a fish, I also got caught; but, the several times I bought a fishing license, I never got a bite. I confess I didn’t take the time to learn appropriate fishing techniques.
The recent fish-kill from the planned underwater blast at Ute Lake reminded me about Egyptian researchers in the early 1900s who concluded that dynamite wasn’t the best method for harvesting tilapia. So, I thought I’d write about the methods we use to fish for men, something I enjoy doing although my success level in that also is low (Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20).
Jesus’ promise to make his disciples fishers of men was predicated on following him. As disciples of John the Baptist, Andrew and probably John the Apostle already knew about Jesus and that they should follow him (John 1:29-42). Following Jesus requires being sold out enough to take up one’s cross daily and just do what he said, even when it doesn’t make sense to us (Luke 9:23; 14:27; 1 Corinthians 1:18; Matthew 18:1-3). Jesus’ disciples learned that when he first called them to be fishers of men (Luke 5:1-11). After his resurrection from the dead about three years later, they were pretty much ready to obey him without question (John 21:1-6).
The techniques used to fish for men have only two guidelines: (1) make the gospel attractive for drawing men to Christ and (2) be true to the whole counsel of God (Titus 2:10; Acts 28:26-31). Of course, you can’t bring anyone to Christ without presenting the whole counsel of God, although some church organizations take shortcuts setting aside some of the direct commands, much like me trying to fish without a license (Matthew 15:8-9). Others may present the gospel in a harsh manner, like using dynamite to catch fish, and either make harsh disciples or drive people away from Christ altogether (Matthew 23:13-15). Both of these groups will have to answer to God for that and, sadly, their followers face the same fate (2 Thessalonians 2:9-11; 1:8-12; Luke 6:39-40, 46-49).
The gospel is made attractive simply by how we live as Christians and use hope as the bait that’s desirable to others (1 John 2:5-6; 1 Peter 3:15-16). Seeker-oriented outreach programs are fine, in my opinion, because the Apostles went out preaching the good news of the kingdom, but the programs we use must lead people all the way to Christ and not merely to the organization to be truly effective. We may seem to have a low level of success when fishing for men using appropriate techniques, but the rewards when we do make a catch are heavenly (Matthew 7:13-23; Luke 15:1-7; Matthew 6:16-21; Luke 16:9).
Do your church’s programs draw men to your church or to Christ? Do you search the scriptures to make sure what’s taught and done at your church is appropriate for fishing for men (Acts 17:11)?
Leonard Lauriault is a member of the Church of Christ in Logan. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org