Sunday I was fishing with some friends on a local lake. The weather was beautiful, though a bit hot (87F) at midday. While I enjoy going out with them on our annual trip, they are not the greatest of fishers. As I said, the weather was hot, and so was the water; rather than fishing out in the deeper areas where the water was cooler they kept picking the shallow areas, as a result we got nary a bite, much less actually bringing something in. But, fishing has always been just a reason for us to get out once a year and enjoy each others company while our non-fishing family members enjoy their company at the pavilion.This year, with so few nibbles, started me thinking of Our Lord’s promise to his disciples, Matt 4:19 “And he said to the, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” Jesus then spent the next three years teaching them. He knew that it would take time to turn this rag tag group of untaught men into a force to be reckoned with when they were sent out on the Great Mission. Time to learn what the real mission of the Messiah was, time to unlearn millennia of Pharisaic teachings, time to learn what Our Father really wants of His children, time to learn how to perform signs and wonders.
How much do we do that, actually prepare our mission people to go out into the world to introduce strangers to our loving Father? From what I’ve seen, not much (or well). They are sent forth ill prepared for what lies ahead. Sadly,. our missionaries seem to spend more time trying to convert members of other congregations than actually working with non-believers, even then they are not well trained. Every year I am met at my home by members (young members) from the local LDS church. I don’t turn them away, or slam the door on them, instead I take the opportunity to sit down and actually talk with them. I have had a lot of great conversations sitting with them on the stoop. What I find is that they are poorly trained in the New Testament and Our Lord’s teachings. They have the barest knowledge, sufficient to sway an equally ill-read person. But, to have a deep Pauline style conversation they are lost. Now, I am not trying to covert them over to my beliefs, just to have a good conversation and see just how much they really know.
In the past we used to have JW’s come around, but not so much in the last several years. They, too, seem to be prepared to convert the weak, but are not well read beyond that. Does your church do any better? How well prepared are the people we are sending out into a world, an America, that is becoming more and more pagan? Are we making real fishers of men, or are we sending them out into the midday sun, without the knowledge of where the fish are hiding? Peter was amazed by the catch he made when, after a night of fishing, Jesus showed him where the fish really were. His nets were so full he had to call for help, and Peter knew better than to fish in the shallows during the heat of the day.. Imagine if our people were shown where the fish were, and were properly trained on how to fish the seas of this world.
2 thoughts on “I will make you fishers of men”
Great post, and very convicting. It’s truly an indictment of us church leaders and our congregations. So, just to carry the post a little farther, how would you suggest a congregation of believers learn to fish?
I can only speak from my experience in the Eastern church, the same requirements that have been around since the start of it all.
– A person of good character, at least 30 years of age. By then you know if a person is good and committed to the faith.
– Solid teaching, being able to prove that they have learned it, not just think they did because they sat through everything.
– Prove that they understand what the church’s teachings are.
Today a person wanting to server the church is given a degree while they are in their early 20’s. What does a person of that age know of life? How does the church know about their moral character? In their 20’s they are barely out of their parent’s influence and out on their own. Think about a person of 30 in Jesus’ time, they have children, family, have been working for at least 15 years, and have been taught the Bible since pre-teens. These days that doesn’t usually happen until their 40’s, but we send them out at 24 anyway.
These are things that cannot be assumed just because they took a couple classes or got a degree in an age when you pass a class because you got a C, no less than A should be accepted.
There was a time when a Bishop had to be able to recite the Psalms from memory. When a preacher / missionary had to know the parables and teachings of Our Lord without looking them up. These days we settle for less, so that is what we get…less.