Jesus said to his disciples “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” I believe that this encounter is more than a statement of what he was going to do, but it was a reflection of what is already going on in their encounter. What can we learn about “catching” men from Jesus encounter with the fishermen in Luke 5:1-11?
You need disciples. Fish do not just appear. Someone has to work to bring them in. Nets and boats do not catch fish by themselves.
You need nets, and they need to be prepared. You cannot catch a fish by hand, you need something to catch them in. The net is the instrument we use to “catch” someone who is swimming around in the world. In Luke 5:2, we find the disciples “washing” the nets, and else where we find them “mending” the nets. This is the process of preparing the instrument that we will use to catch people. Even after all the preparation they did, their nets still were not strong enough to hold the catch. We need to make sure that we have nets that can hold a God sized catch.
You need a boat. Without a boat, you have no place to put the fish you catch. You have to throw them back. The boat is the church, and more specifically it is the place in the church that you can help people transition from the water of the world, to the Kingdom of God. You need to have transitional vehicles in place so that when you catch a person, there is a logical pathway all the way from where they are to being solid successful fishermen themselves.
You need to go out into the water. You cannot catch many fish from the shore. You have to go out into the environment where they live. In fact, good fishermen know specific places where the fish are, and specific techniques to catch them. We need to leave our safe church environments to touch a live person.
You need Jesus in the boat. Even with all of the right tools, the disciples were still not catching anything. Reliance on savvy programming is not enough to bring in the harvest. You need the life giving presence of God. Not only can you not catch the fish without Jesus, but you cannot make people grow by some strict regimen. They have to choose to take the path of growth.
You need teamwork. Once they had the miraculous catch, Luke 5:7 tells us that the disciples signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help. This meant they were able to bring a much larger catch to shore.
At Freedom Christian Fellowship, we recognize that it takes the entire team to make a successful “fishing expedition.” Paul says that “I planted, Apollos watered, God gave the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:6) We need those who excel at reaching people, and once we touch a life we need people and a process to get them into the boat and back to shore. This means that everyone can focus on what they are best at.