Let’s Go Fishing
Marcus Whitman is a minister and blogger who thrives on teaching believers how to share their faith. He accomplishes this through his weekly blog and his “Let’s Go Fishing” weekend seminars. The weekends are packed full of stories and principles that inspire and encourage churches and believers to seek and save the lost. Pastor Marcus ministers with the support of his wife Paige, their three children, and six grandchildren.
For more information, or to order the book, Let’s Go Fishing, A Stress-Free Method for Sharing Jesus with Others, or to read Pastor Marcus’ blog, go to www.whitmanministries.org.
Jesus made an amazing statement in Matthew 4:19 when speaking to a couple of fishermen. He said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Notice He didn’t say, “I will make you holier, more spiritual, or bless you exceedingly.” He gave them a purpose for living and a new occupation.
Many times as believers, we talk about the blessings of God. Don’t take me wrong; the blessings are important. However, it is more important to be used by God than to be blessed by God. That’s what Jesus was saying to Peter and Andrew when He said, “I am going to use you to fish for men.”
Let me bring this concept into focus with another statement. We have been blessed by God to be used by God and He wants to use us to go fishing for men! When you are blessed by God, you can go out and make a difference in another person’s life.
I believe most believers would like to consider themselves to be followers of Christ—they have a life that reflects their relationship and worship of God. In this verse, we see Jesus’ definition for a follower. It is simply this: “followers fish.” The best definition I have found for fishing is in Proverbs 11:30:
Proverbs 11:30 (Amplified)
The fruit of the [uncompromisingly] righteous is a tree of life, and he who is wise captures human lives [for God, as a fisher of men – he gathers and receives them for eternity].
Wise followers go fishing and bring those around them into the family of God. So, one of my main points today is this: “Followers fish, so if you aren’t fishing, you aren’t following.”
Required Tools for Fishing
Over the years, I have met many fishermen who have a lot of “stuff” that helps them catch fish—things like a boat, rods and reels, artificial bait, and the list goes on. I have found that when fishing for men there is one ingredient—one tool that is indispensable if you want to be an effective fisherman. That one ingredient is a heart for the lost. Jesus revealed His heart for the lost in Luke 15 with three stories, including the well-known story of the prodigal son. In these stories, we see that Jesus’ heart for the lost was fueled by His love and compassion for those who are far from God. Each person is valuable to Him. Jesus proves over and over that the Father wants us to leave the front porch and run to the lost and the hurting, just as the prodigal son’s father did.
Years ago, I began meditating on this chapter (Luke 15). Remember, “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). As I meditated on these passages and others, faith arose in me to go fishing for men. A heart full of love and compassion consumed me with a passion for the lost, the hurting, and those separated from God.
I have found that nothing can replace a passion or a heart for fishing. This is the secret ingredient to being effective. And nothing brings passion like meditating on God’s Word for the lost and sharing the Gospel. So, as you prepare to go fishing and be a follower of Christ, do not leave home without this necessary ingredient. A heart for others turns fishing for men from an obligation into a passion that is fueled by God’s love and compassion for the lost.
With this in mind, I would like to share with you what I call the “4 Indisputable Laws of Fishing” which I have found to be powerful and effective over the years when it comes to fishing for men.
Law #1: Go Where the Fish Are!
My wife has never seen me fishing in our bath tub. Why? Because there are no fish in the tub. Jesus was a great fisherman because He always went where the fish were—He hung out with sinners. The religious people of His day ridiculed Him for eating with sinners. As a matter of fact, in many cases He hung out with those who were notorious for being wicked. In Matthew 9:10, we see Jesus hanging out with Matthew, a notorious sinner, and a bunch of his friends. In Luke 19:2, Jesus saw Zacchaeus, another tax collector who was known as a sinner, and asked him to lunch. Instead of talking about Zacchaeus’ sins and all that he had done wrong, Jesus said, “Hey Zac, let’s do lunch.”
We have been called to connect with people, not to criticize and judge them. I believe in the popular, well-known saying, “People don’t care what you know, until they know that you care.” People in Jesus’ day knew that He cared. He fed them, healed them, and met their needs. Remember this—Jesus was sent to sinners, but he didn’t become a sinner. Jesus went fishing, but he didn’t become a fish. He had great compassion for people, and it moved Him to help them and make a difference in their lives.
The best way to become a world-class fisherman is to go where the fish are—your friends and family. Take the time to connect with them and make their lives better. As you do, you will find that they are interested in you and your story of how God has changed your life.
Law #2: Use the Right Bait
A true fisherman knows that in order to catch fish, you’ve got to use the right bait. I remember one fishing trip where I was in the middle of a school of fish, but didn’t catch anything. Why? I had the wrong bait. The wrong bait is to be judgmental, critical, and condemning. My dad used to make me be quiet when we were fishing. He said he didn’t want me to scare off the fish. (I think he just wanted some peace and quiet!) But there’s a lesson in there for when we are fishing for men. We can scare off people when we use the wrong bait and come across as condemning. One definition for the word condemn is to express complete disapproval of another. Ouch! How many times has that happened? Jesus didn’t come to condemn them, but to save them (John 3:17)!
The right bait is the goodness of God. Romans 2:4 says, “It’s the goodness of God that leads one to repent.” The word repent simply means to change the way you think in order to change direction. You can’t change the way you act until you change the way you think. Most people don’t have a clue about how good God is and how much He loves them. Our job as believers is to clear up their misunderstanding of God through our words and actions—what we say and do. We do this by sharing our story of what God has done in our lives and how it has transformed how we live.
My story of how God has blessed me and changed my life is the best bait I have for my friends and family. In Mark 5, Jesus told the mad man of Gadara to go tell his story of how good God had been to him. In order to follow Jesus, this man had to go tell his story. He had amazing results, which brought a major revival to the area. Why? Because one man had an encounter with Jesus and shared it with his family and friends.
The right bait is attractive, appealing, and alluring to the fish. The goodness of God wrapped up in your story will always be appealing, attractive, and alluring to those you encounter every day.
Law #3: You’ve Got to Get Them in the Boat
You can go where the fish are and use the right bait, but you haven’t caught a thing until you get them in the boat. When people see our lives, hear our stories, and begin to see how good God is, they’ll want to be born again and follow us to church.
Yes, the Body of Christ, the Church, is the boat. I am a big believer in having special services called “Invite Sundays” that are designed for people who are far from God. In Luke 14:23, we see that God the Father wants His house full. Nothing fills up the cChurch, the Body of Christ, like a group of fishermen who like to bring people to church. And nothing encourages people to bring their family and friends who are far from God to church like a day designed for them. On these days, it’s all about souls instead of numbers.
I read an article one time that said it takes as many as 18 different invitations to attend church to persuade a non-churched person to accept. Wow! So, what do we do? We design a service for the lost and then we invite them to come. If they say no, we invite them again. We invite, compel, and bring them when necessary. There is nothing like bringing a friend to church and seeing them make a commitment to Christ. It will not only change their life, but yours also.
When we have 4 to 6 services a year designed for friends and family who are lost, it empowers members to share their faith and bring the lost to church. This empowerment encourages believers who never share their faith to bring someone to church. This causes them to grow and become fishers of men.
Law #4: You’ve Got to Clean Them Up
The fishing process isn’t complete until you have cleaned the fish you have caught. I made a mistake one time and left my fish in a bucket overnight. You guessed it. The next day I had stinky fish. It’s not enough to bring someone to church and have them make a decision.—that’s just the beginning. You’ve got to take the time and clean them up (disciple them).
We disciple new believers by connecting them to the Word, their church, and other believers. Providing these connection points for growth is one of the most important things we do for new believers. New believers who are left to themselves and not connected to the church become stinky fish. Remember, the fish don’t clean themselves.
Fish Become Fishermen
When we go fishing for men, something happens that doesn’t happen when we fish for fish. In this process of discipleship, our fish go through the process of growing to become fishers of men themselves. As they grow and continue in the discipleship process, they themselves become followers. And what do followers do? That’s right—they fish.
Have a great week, and let’s go fishing!