A friend of mine has written several books in the so-called “Dummies” series. He was fortunate enough to get involved early on in this and has done very well financially for just this: Helping those unfamiliar with his expertise learn how to become skilled very quickly. That is the idea behind the Dummies series usually – taking a “Dummie” and making them smart.
When I use the word “Dummie” in this article, I mean something quite different.
It’s Not About Hooks
I’ve seen plenty of “hook” imagery in Christian “stores” over the years. God bless the artists who put those together, but each of them were taught very poorly. When Jesus used the metaphor of fishing the idea of a hook was not in his mind whatsoever. Hooks didn’t come into existence until centuries later! As well, a hook is a deceptive trick one pulls on an unsuspecting fish. Bait and switch. Sure, many use the bait and switch and call that “outreach.” It is difficult to imagine Jesus inviting people to a free lunch then locking the doors while a thirty minute talk is forced upon the group as a hard sell message is forced upon the group.
“Use The Nets Norman!”
Every fishing story in the gospels is connected with Jesus instructing fisher people to toss out their nets. In short, when there is a crowd of fish, the net draws them in. It’s that simple. Draw them in.
It’s Never About One Kind Of Fish
Many pastors have been fed a line of malarkey that churches grow best when a strategy is employed by leadership of seeking “homogenous social units.” That is, when we go after people like us, a church will grow. This point is not only utterly 180 degrees the opposite of every biblical story of God’s visitation upon a people group, it is just plain boring! When God shows up in power amazing diversity naturally occurs (c.f. Acts 2, Acts 4 – moving from one people group to thirteen people groups in a matter of minutes).
Remember this: When you serve the city, when you love the city in practical ways, the city shows up at your door – as they are, tattoos, piercings, Armani suits, Porche 911s, rusted 20 year old station wagons – all sitting next to one another.
THOUGHT: If you are stuck in sameness, start scattering seeds of generosity across the city. Be sure you are not too strategic in your sowing or you will kill the work of the Spirit. Spiritual strategies are absolutely fine and good, but more often than not what we call a strategy in today’s church is a synonym for “We are in absolute control – no one makes a move without our permission!” You want to see God move in your midst? As odd as it sounds, be fairly non-strategic to begin with in order to fall in love with the power of God’s Spirit to move as only he can. You see amazing results. I’m dead serious. (Read and re-read Matt. 13)
It’s Not About Carp
No offense intended to those who value carp as a game fish, but let’s face it. Carp may easily be considered the most boring, predictable fish on the planet.
Of the tiny percentage of those who make an effort to “fish” (do evangelism), there is typically but one kind of “fish” Church leaders seek after – carp! If you aren’t familiar with these bottom feeders, they are passive, watchers not doers, lethargic and they have no teeth. Why do church leaders value the acquisition of carp as new believers versus a more daring catch such as big mouth bass sorts of believers, for example? Bass have a mind of their own. They are independent fish. They are fighters with lots of life to them, but they require far more energy than the totally predictable carp.
Turn From Easy To Jesus’ Way
When Jesus shows up in your midst in a profound way there is no need to lean on cuteness, no need to look for the magic bullet strategy the new book by the brilliant author of the moment is going to publish.
Yes, you will have a lot of creativity going on as God is powerfully present in your midst. That is his nature – he moves and his creativity follows. Thoughts will flow like a new vocabulary of a language you are speaking for the first time.
The fish will gather.
Cast the net.
The adventure begins…