Fishers of Men
As a woman in ministry for 20 years I’ve seen many methods of ministry. Some fruitful and some not so fruitful. As a youth pastor’s wife I remember seeing a kid eat a live goldfish at youth camp on a dare. I’m pretty sure that did not bring him closer to Jesus. It will definitely be remembered as we still laugh about it 20 years later. Methods of ministry come and go but the Commission never changes. Reach people with the gospel, make disciples.
Methods tend to be criticized among believers. I believe the enemy uses an inner struggle of lack of fulfillment or frustration to turn us against each other. He wants division. When we are not happy with our outcome we begin to look around at other “success” and try to discredit it.
When it comes to our Christian walk, the Church, and discipleship, Jesus gave us specific commandments without specific methods. He compared being a disciple to being “Fishers of Men”.
18 Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee. He saw two brothers. They were Simon (his other name was Peter) and Andrew, his brother. They were putting a net into the sea for they were fishermen. 19 Jesus said to them, “Follow Me. I will make you fish for men!” 20 At once they left their nets and followed Him. (Matthew 4:18-20)
Allow me to relate. After moving from our sweet, coastal town five years ago I found myself missing the saltwater. This may seem like a strange thing to miss but some of our most treasured moments were on a boat fishing. It’s funny how God will use anything in our life to teach us. If you have never been fishing or do not enjoy the thought, bear with me as I explain. Fishing methods are far and wide but they all have one thing in common: THE GOAL is to catch fish!
Fishing methods are far and wide but they all have one thing in common: THE GOAL is to catch fish!
How does this compare to church and criticism? Well, I’m glad you asked. My favorite memories are getting ready to go out in the Gulf of Mexico to fish. As we pull up to the boat dock, while the sun hasn’t broken the horizon yet, the warm breeze brings the smell of saltwater and cut bait. The seagulls and pelicans are waiting for you on the dock looking for a labor-free meal. It’s definitely a nostalgic experience. It does involve work. Before leaving the bay we have to catch bait for the day's trip.
I remember watching my husband throw the cast net and pull in hundreds of fish. You never knew what you would bring in. One cast could come back empty and the next would be filled with hundreds of fish.
Church is like fishing. In Church we “cast the net” with a big event or service. These events draw people in with the main goal being an opportunity to share the Gospel.Some may question this as wasting money on the outside rather than the actual Gospel.
I’ve heard many times, “Wow! That money could have met a physical need”. As we judge we do not see the time spent in prayer over every soul and the intentionality of every moment. These nights and events draw people in who otherwise wouldn’t attend a church service. When worship begins and the message is preached, God can change hearts that had no intention of letting Him in. It is opportunity for someone to have
I’d say this is an irreplaceable investment. Offering people living water so that they never thirst again. I’ve heard many testimonies of people who would have never come to church but come because of an outside factor. Then they hear the Gospel of hope and the rest is history.
One moment in His presence can change a life forever.
Discipleship is more like fishing with a cork. It can be a long, time-consuming process. You sit, you wait, you stare at the cork hoping something bites. You meet, you pray, you learn, you give advice and share God’s Word. This is where you really learn how to live out your faith daily. You will slowly see life change happening if you stay consistent. Discipleship is critical.
18 Jesus came and said to them, “All power has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go and make followers of all the nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach them to do all the things I have told you. And I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” (Matthew 18:18-20)
The last type of fishing is trolling. You put the lines out behind the boat and ride, hoping a big fish will hit the bait. I compare this to living out your faith. As you ride along, living your faith out, people see what God is doing in your life and they want to jump on board.
WE are living examples. Christ in you draws others to you.
My point is this… Do you have discipleship groups? Great! Do you have large church gatherings? Great!
I believe every Christian would benefit by doing what God has called them to do instead of wasting energy trying to discredit what others are doing. No one has the perfect balance but we are striving to reach others with the life-changing, life-saving gift of salvation. As long as we are making disciples and being fishers of men, we are on the right path.
It’s easy to critique each other. Let’s join forces and do what we’ve been called to do. Make disciples! Ask God how He wants to use you and do it. Let’s focus on OUR calling. We all have one. Fish how you want to fish, how you have been gifted to fish. That’s where fulfillment is found and how grace is truly given.
Fishers of Men is Entry TWO in May 2019's blog series, Grace Givers. What does grace mean to you? Share in the conversation below.
Ashley Simmons has been married to her wonderful husband, Tim, for 20 years. They have served in ministry together since the day they were married. Tim and Ashley have two beautiful children, Cole,16, and Kennedy, 14. Tim serves as Executive Pastor at Life Fellowship Church in Olive Branch, MS and Ashley serves on staff at the Guest Services Director. Her hobbies include "having two teenagers! It is quite time consuming." Ashley loves to write, share her story and minister to women. Before coming to Life Fellowship, Tim and Ashley traveled and spoke on the restoration of marriages. The tour was called, For Love For Life. The enemy wants to destroy the family but they have seen God turn ashes in beauty! Read more from Ashley at www.ashleylsimmons.com