Our annual Texas Baptist Pastors’ Retreat at San Luis Pass was this past Monday through Wednesday so I headed down there after teaching Living Life Bible Study. For the past three years we have been meeting at this same rental home sitting by a canal. All the pastors seem to enjoy the retreat because they get to rest from their ministry routine for a couple of days to cook, eat and share with one another. The highlight of the retreat, however, is fishing. Since the home is sitting by a canal, we can freely fish at any time of the day going in and out of the home whenever we want to.
Fishing was very slow during the retreat. Other than catching just a few fish during the first few hours on Monday evening, no one was catching anything until Tuesday late night. We were using fresh dead shrimp and squid as bait. Finally, I decided to get more proactive and diligent with my fishing and started to use artificial lures. Those of us who fish know that artificial lures require more effort because you have to work the lure so that it will look very real to the fish. Shortly after, flounders started to hit. I caught one that was barely big enough to keep. Another one took my bait and came up to the top of the water. There were two other pastors fishing next to me and we could not believe how big it was. But because I did not set the hook right, it got away. I was extremely disappointed.
Fishing slowed down a bit and all the pastors went inside the home at about 1AM to sleep. I was the only one out there trying to catch just one more. About thirty minutes after everyone went inside I felt a tug and realized I got another flounder. I set the hook very hard this time because I did not want this one to get away. When it swam up going left and right I recognized that it was the one that got away. I was ecstatic and quickly grabbed the net that was right next to me. After struggling to scoop it up a few times with the net, at last I was able to bring it in. I was awestruck by its sheer size.
Then I thought about catching men for God. In fact, during the retreat I had an opportunity to talk to one of the pastors that we are not just called to make disciples but save people first and then make them disciples of Christ. I reminded him how Jesus said to His disciples that He will make them fishers of men, not receivers of men.
There are many similarities between catching fish and catching men. First, in order to catch fish, you have to be at a place where fish are. There was one pastor who stayed inside the house the whole time when other pastors were fishing. This pastor will never be able to catch fish.
Second, you must have the right set of equipment. At bare minimum, you need a fishing pole or line, a hook and some bait. However, the more appropriate your equipment, the better your chance of catching fish. For example, we just needed a 6-7′ fishing pole where we fished because it was not surfside but a canal.
Third, you should acquire some fishing skills. You cannot catch certain kinds of sport fish unless you know how to catch them. You can learn the skills by watching Youtube or reading books. But the best way to acquire these skills is by going fishing with someone who is more experienced than you are and watching them fish, asking them questions and copying what they do. If they use live bait, you use live bait. If they use lures, then you use lures.
Lastly, you need to persevere. There was another pastor at the retreat who is good at fishing. Had he been out there fishing next to me, he most likely would have caught flounders also. But he was tired and he went to sleep. It was lonely out there fishing by myself. The result, however, was glorious!
New Life, catching men for God through house church works in very similar ways. If you as a house church are serious about obeying Jesus’s Great Commission, you must go where people are with the right set of equipment and skills. Some house churches are doing well and some not so well. If your house church is not doing so well in saving people and making disciples of Christ, then observe others that are doing well and ask them questions and humbly imitate what they do. God’s principles are always very simple but hard to obey because it requires self-denial. And then, simply persevere. Stay at it when others are sleeping. You will catch people for God. And when that happens, you will experience exceeding joy!
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