Thursday, April 24, 2008

Don't Cast Your Net, Pick Up a Fishing Pole

As I sat looking out over the Arabian Sea, my mind was absorbed with the little fishing boats anchored off the coast. What a tough job that must be, to battle the wind and the waves in such a small boat, throwing out the nets hoping to catch a few fish to eat and to sell. At night the fisherman do not rest, but the mend their nets and prepare for the next day’s toil.

I then thought of the class of faithful servants I’ve been teaching this week. Many of them told me about the persecution they have suffered their service to Christ in this region. In my class this morning I challenged them to quit trying to be “net fisherman,” but rather “pole fisherman.” My class is about knowing people in culture, not methods of evangelism and church growth.

The church has traditionally tried to reach the world with the Gospel by casting large nets – revival campaigns, VBS, radio/television ministries, tract distribution and showing the Jesus Film. Using those methods we pray for a few people to get caught in God’s net, but many escape, some swim away frightened, others angry and offended. I'm suggesting the better way to reach a nation for God is through building a relationship with those who live in our community, to fish for the souls of men, one at a time.

Of course this is not the role of the full-time pastor or missionary alone. In fact, its everyday followers of Christ who work in an office or factory and the community where they live who should be about the business of pole fishing. Being friends with those we live with, living a consistent godly life of integrity, without gossip or anger; by helping them in their time of need, this is the way of pole fishing.

To be a good pole fisherman you have to know the way of the fish – go where they swim, know what they feed on. This means that we, as fishers of men, must be, like our Lord, “a friend of sinners.” Christ came not into the world to condemn the world; He came with love and compassion that they might have salvation. And so it is with us. May we get out of the secure confines of our boat, i.e. the church, put away our nets and go fishing, each day we live.