Fishers of Men and the Great Question
In the midst of much MS fatigue and some discouragement, I recently took a long, close look at my life and ministry. I was chagrined to find that I was coasting. Coasting has never been my way of life. I began daily to pray a three-fold prayer:
1. Lord, help me to love you more than life itself.
2. Help me to understand and love more than life that which You are doing through Christ Jesus.
3. Help me to have Kingdom expansion eyes every day everywhere I go.
As I searched the scriptures I was hit square in the face with Matthew 4:19 where Jesus says, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” Church planting has been my passion for many years. Being a “fisher of men” is the first step in church planting. Now that I was not actively planting churches, somewhere along the way being a fisher of men fell in the cracks. Through His Word God reminded me that being a fisher of men has always been my first calling. I had to make a decision either to follow that calling or not follow. I chose to follow. Since then I have seen more miracles than in the past twenty years. Fishing has become an everyday way of life for me. I invite you to join me in the most exciting fishing trip I have ever taken. Being fishers of men is the first calling of every person who has been born again.
What does the Bible say?
In Luke 19:10 the Bible says “The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.”
Note in John 20:21: So Jesus said to them again, “Just as the Father has sent me, I also send you.” For sure there is a connection between why Jesus came and our mission. He came to seek and save the lost. In a sense we are an extension of the incarnation. Jesus is The Son, we are the sons. We are to seek and let Him save the lost.
Jesus drew near and said to them, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
For I have an obligation to all peoples, to the civilized and to the savage, to the educated and to the ignorant. So then, I am eager to preach the Good News to you also who live in Rome. I have complete confidence in the gospel; it is God's power to save all who believe, first the Jews and also the Gentiles. Romans 1:14-16
Jesus said, “Do you not say, ʻThere are yet four months, then comes the harvest.ʼ Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.” John 4:35
As we are going what do we see?
In Wal-Mart what do we see? When we go to the doctor what do we see? When we go to a real estate office what do we see? When we go to the attorney's office what do we see? When we go to a retail store to buy clothing what do we see? When the plumber comes, what do we see? When we go to work, what do we see? In the fast foods places what do we see? We need to see people.
When we look at a person, we should ask ourselves, “Is that person worth Jesus dying for? If so, what is that to me?”
You get the picture - Jesus said as you're going...lift up your eyes.
Secularism has invaded the Church to the extent that our vision is blurred. Lost people sometimes say the church is full of hypocrites. They may be referring to members who swear, gamble and get drunk, etc. This is hypocrisy, but there is a much greater hypocrisy that is overwhelming....white collar hypocrisy. This is pretending that all is well if we are good folks, go to church and read our Bibles and pray a little and give a tip. All this is commendable (except the tip). But to know the teachings of Jesus concerning witnessing and evangelism and not be fishers of men is hypocrisy at its worst. Our primary mission is to experience Acts 1:8 But when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be filled with power, and you will be witnesses for me in Jerusalem, in all of Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. We are to realize Matthew 4:19 as we are going - daily. Not to do this is the ultimate hypocrisy. The church is riddled with serious hypocrisy from top leaders down to pastors and members. I want out of the traditional box and to get on with the ministry to which Jesus called us.
There are folks who spend thousands of dollars to go to another country to minister, but at home can go weeks - or months - without deliberately seeking out the lost and sharing the Gospel. We can keep on preaching, doing seminars, writing books and teaching, but never get a hook wet. (SeeThe Fisherless Fisherman at end of this paper.)
Jesus said to them, “Come with me, and I will teach you to catch people.” Matthew 4:19 Another translation says, Jesus said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men."
• If I am following Jesus what will I be doing?
• If fishing for men is not my primary business am I following Jesus?
So what am I doing?
I am seeking fish that are hungry. (Holy Spirit prepared people)
I am discipling newly caught fish, teaching them to get busy immediately catching fish themselves. As for you, my son, be strong through the grace that is ours in union with Christ Jesus. Take the teachings that you heard me proclaim in the presence of many witnesses, and entrust them to reliable people, who will be able to teach others also. 2 Timothy 2:1, 2
It is a high priority - every day, everywhere I go. There are times when the Holy Spirit says go to a place and I arrive to find a person waiting.
Note Phillip and the Eunuch - Acts 8. At noontime, still hot, the Lord said go. No questions asked, Phillip immediately went. Convenient - no. Comfortable - no. Time consuming - yes! Under the direction of the Holy Spirit he went and he found a lost, hungry man. Miracles happen as we are obedient. Could this happen today? For sure. Not in meetings where we talk and teach about outreach; not sitting at a computer; not in a planning committee meeting; but as we are going. Going with Kingdom-expansion eyes.
There are excuses - too busy, too shy, don't know what to say, afraid of what the lost will say, I don't have the answers....Satan tells us those things. For some it may be that the new birth is not a reality in their own lives. For some it may be a watered down false religion - orthodox, but doctrine only.
So how does it work?
The question that needs to be asked of people is not:
- Are you a Christian? Too general and often meaningless.
- What church do you go to? For an unbeliever this is irrelevant.
- Are you a believer? Everyone believes, even the devil.
- Come to my church. This is not the greatest need of a person who has not been born again.
How do I approach people? I strike up a friendly conversation to break the ice. Then I ask if I can give them a gift. The offer of a gift will usually bring down walls. I have in hand copies of the evangelistic tool, Good News For You. I then let the person know that I am not a crazy religious nut. I explain the nature of the book, showing questions on the left with the answers coming directly from the Scripture which is included in the booklet. As the situation becomes more relaxed, I say, "May I ask you a question?" Always they say yes. Then I ask them, "Have you been born again?" If they say yes, I congratulate them and suggest they look the book over and give it to someone who has not been born again. If they say no or seem not to understand the question, I suggest they work through the study guide to find what the Bible says about how to get to heaven. I then thank them for their time and say, “May God bless you.”
It is very important to be sensitive concerning the time spent with people. Remember they have a purpose for being where ever we meet them. They often will be focused and in a hurry. So cut the talk time. Normally a long conversation will be inappropriate and people may not want to hear what we have to say. The message is in the tool (Good News For You). Donʼt preach, teach, or give opinions, but let Godʼs Word be made known through the study guide. A cashier at the check out line or at the bank will not have time for a conversation. There may be times when I will only say the following.
“May I give you a gift? It is Good News. It tells the way to go to heaven. May God bless you.” There will be times when I donʼt ask them if they have been born again, although I usually find it convenient to ask. It is this question that they will remember for years.
In John 3:3 Jesus said that unless a person is born again, he will not see the Kingdom of God. Jesusʼ statement is pointed, specific, and leads to the most relevant question on earth - Have you been born again? People who have been born again will know it.
That is the question - only five words. Have you been born again? There is the tool - Good News for You. Not my words, not my sales pitch, not my personality, not my experience, not my education, not my denomination, not a program out of an office - just Godʼs Word and the Holy Spirit. Mark 4:14 “The sower sows Godʼs message.”
Just asking the question would not normally be effective. There would need to be a re- sponse and comments and people are not normally interested in what a stranger has to say. But I leave them with the Good News for You booklet in hand. It has the answers. No preachy stuff - just the questions they need to be asking and the answers from the Scriptures.
This tool, Good New for You, and the question, “Have you been born again?” go together like hand and glove.
It is a self-study guide which is totally nondenominational. The lessons are designed to gently lead a person to a clear, complete understanding of what it means to be born again, to become a genuine follower of Jesus Christ. The lessons are progressive in moving toward a decision based on Biblical knowledge. People are not intimidated, preached at, lectured, or persuaded by a human. A person who has been born again through the use of this tool can effectively and confidently lead another person to Christ using the same tool. It is simple and Biblical and a new convert can confidently use it for fishing.
The combination of The Word and the Holy Spirit is the secret.
This is quite opposite to the "easy believeism" which is prevalent even in Bible teaching churches. This explains why our churches are filled with members who never lead a person to Christ. It is difficult to be motivated to be serious about doing what Christ told us to do if we have not been born again.
There is a simple principle that is critical - we must remember that what Godʼs Word says is more important and more powerful than anything we have to say about Godʼs Word.
Every day, every where I go, having Kingdom expansion eyes I pray, dear Lord guide me to thirsty people. I carry copies of Good News For You (large edition so people will see it) into every store or public place I go. I carry English and Spanish copies. I keep plenty of copies in my truck and my car. On the back of each book I place a mailing label with my name and phone number on it. This link is very important.
Questions? More books? Free! Please call: 417-592-0059
I do not give out books indiscriminately. Sometimes I walk an hour or more in large stores like Wal-Mart and give only four or five books away.
There are so many creative ways to start a brief conversation. Positive comments often open doors. God will open doors as we go. Nearly every day I sense a miraculous intervention of Godʼs leadership in opening doors.
Recently the Lord led me to a record 21 people in one day. I was fishing intentionally from morning until 10 p.m.
An Example of Precision Guidance of God in Fishing
I was involved in two kinds of fishing. Casting the net is one kind of fishing. Every Wednesday night a small group of fishermen meet at my office. This group had a goal of putting a Good News For You in 400 homes on the east side of Neosho. I donʼt believe this is the most effective way to fish, but it is one way. Any response is better than no response. People received the book with positive comments and the books were given out. Not one nasty response.
As I participated in this project, one day by noon I had knocked on over 100 doors. My feet hurt and I was hungry so off to Wendy's I went. As I stood in line I noticed a young woman to my left who was waiting for her order. So, naturally I showed her the Good News for You booklet and asked if she would like one. When she saw it she exclaimed “Oh, my gosh! Are you Charles Brock? This is absolutely amazing. I canʼt believe it. Last Sunday a CEO from Freeman hospital in Joplin gave his testimony in our church and told of his terrible foster home upbringing. Then he held up this same book and said this was the turning point in his life.”
She and her husband work with the youth of their church. She asked for several copies. She then excitedly told her friend about this strange coincidence. I call it providential precision. If I had gotten there five minutes later or arrived five minutes earlier this en- counter would not have happened.
Does this remind us of Philip and the Eunuch in Acts?
The next day I went to more than 100 homes. At one house a young couple came to the door. She said, “We know you, you are the book man, we met at Burger King.” She said, “Last Sunday at our church we had a guest speaker. He is a CEO at Freeman hospital in Joplin. He showed us your book, the same one you gave us at Burger King.” In two days - amazing!
Fish are caught when we go, not when we take care of the aquarium.
Another day, I was thrilled to see doors open. I was in bed most of the day from MS fa- tigue. In the evening I felt compelled to go "fishing", so to Wal-Mart I went. When I got out of my car I saw a purse on the ground behind the car parked next to me. I took it to the service desk. It was found to contain a lot of cash and several credit cards. The service people called the name but no one came. I left a copy of Good News for You with the purse. When I returned to my car, I saw the doors open to the car next to mine. A woman was looking under the seats. I asked her if she had lost something. Crying, she told me about her purse and the contents. I told her I had good news for her. I said, "Your purse is in the store at the service desk, but I have even better news for you.” I gave her and her daughter a Good News for You booklet. I thought she was going to hug me to death. She sent me a very nice letter - a thank you for the books, plus a gift card.
There is a word my family uses often concerning these contacts: providential. God has the people waiting to receive the Good News. Stories are common that illustrate the promise that He will be with us as we are going, sharing the Good News.
My initial goal is 10,000 questions asked and 10,000 books given out.
More and more pastors, DOMs and other servants are catching on. One Director of Missions said this is “long overdue truth and so liberating.” The printer of the Good News for You booklet said, “I want to be a part of this, I want to donate 1000 copies of this booklet to be used in fishing for men."
One pastor said, “Every time I get an email from you about what God is doing through you and the red books, I get convicted because I am not doing it and I am not pushing my church to do it. With that in mind, I no longer want to be convicted by the Holy Spirit for doing nothing.”
A Director of Missions in Arizona said, “This is hard truth and it is time we accepted it.” A leader from the Ohio Baptist Convention, after receiving this article and the Fisherless
Fishermen, said “I stand convicted. Send me 100 copies of Good News For You.” Bottom line: “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” James 4:17
The motivation of love is the key - look again at the prayer at the beginning of this article.
Jeremiah 8:20-22 - The people cry out, “The summer is gone, the harvest is over, but we have not been saved.” My heart has been crushed because my people are crushed, I mourn; I am completely dismayed. Is there no medicine in Gilead? Are there no doctors there? Why, then, have my people not been healed?”
Jeremiah 9:1 - “I wish my head were a well of water, and my eyes a fountain of tears, so that I could cry day and night for my people who have been killed.”
Why have I been so complacent about that which God is so passionate about?
If you would like to receive a copy of Good News For You and this paper, please let me know.
To God be the glory!
www.cpqa.org - read testimonies
The following is used with permission.
The Fishless Fishermen
By John Drescher
NOW IT CAME to pass that a group existed who called themselves fishermen. And lo, there were many fish in the waters all around. In fact the whole area was surrounded by streams and lakes filled with fish. And the fish were hungry.
Week after week, month after month, and year after year these who called themselves fishermen met in meetings and talked about their call to fish, the abundance of fish, and how they might go about fishing.
Year after year they carefully defined what fishing means, defended fishing as an occupation, and declared that fishing is always to be a primary task of fishermen. Continually they searched for new and better methods of fishing and for new and better definitions of fishing.
Further they said, “The fishing industry exists by fishing as fire exists by burning.” They loved slogans such as “Fishing is the task of every fisherman,” “Every fisherman is a fisher,” and “A fisherman’s outpost for every fisherman’s club.”
They sponsored special meetings called “Fishermen’s Campaigns” and “The Month for Fisher- men to Fish.” They sponsored costly nationwide congresses to discuss fishing and to promote fishing and hear about all the ways of fishing such as the new fishing equipment, fish calls, and whether any new bait was discovered.
These fishermen built large, beautiful buildings called “Fishing Headquarters.” The plea was that everyone should be a fisherman and every fisherman should fish. One thing they didn’t do, how- ever; they didn’t fish.
In addition to meeting regularly, they organized a board to send out fishermen to other places where there were many fish. All the fishermen seemed to agree that what is needed is a board which could challenge fishermen to be faithful in fishing.
The board was formed by those who had the great vision and courage to speak about fishing, to define fishing, and to promote the idea of fishing in faraway streams and lakes where many other fish of different colors lived.
Also the board hired staffs and appointed committees and held many meetings to define fishing, to defend fishing, and to decide what new streams should be thought about. But the staff and committee members did not fish.
Large, elaborate, and expensive training centers were built whose original and primary purpose was to teach fishermen how to fish. Over the years courses were offered on the needs of fish, the nature of fish, where to find fish, the psychological reactions of fish, and how to approach and feed fish.
Those who taught had doctorates in fishology. But the teachers did not fish. They only taught fishing. Year after year, after tedious training, many were graduated and were given fishing li- censes. They were sent to do full-time fishing, some to distant waters which were filled with fish.
Some spent much study and travel to learn the history of fishing and to see faraway places where the founding fathers did great fishing in the centuries past. They lauded the faithful fishermen of years before who handed down the idea of fishing.
Further, the fishermen built large printing houses to publish fishing guides. Presses were kept busy day and night to produce materials solely devoted to fishing methods, equipment, and pro- grams to arrange and to encourage meetings to talk about fishing.
A speakers’ bureau was also provided to schedule special speakers on the subject of fishing.
Many who felt the call to be fishermen responded. They were commissioned and sent to fish. But like the fishermen back home they never fished. Like the fishermen back home they engaged in all kinds of other occupations.
They built power plants to pump water for fish and tractors to plow new waterways. They made all kinds of equipment to travel here and there to look at fish hatcheries. Some also said they wanted to be part of the fishing party, but they felt called to furnish fishing equipment.
Others felt their job was to relate to the fish in a good way so the fish would know the difference between good and bad fishermen. Others felt that simply letting the fish know they were nice, land-loving neighbors and how loving and kind they were was enough.
After one stirring meeting on “The Necessity for Fishing,” one young fellow left the meeting and went fishing. The next day he reported he had caught two outstanding fish. He was honored for his excellent catch and scheduled to visit all the big meetings possible to tell how he did it.
So he quit his fishing in order to have time to tell about the experience to the other fishermen. He was also placed on the Fishermen’s General Board as a person having considerable experience.
Now it’s true that many of the fishermen sacrificed and put up with all kinds of difficulties. Some lived near the water and bore the smell of dead fish every day. They received the ridicule of some who made fun of their fishermen’s clubs and the fact that they claimed to be fishermen yet never fished.
They wondered about those who felt it was of little use to attend the weekly meetings to talk about fishing. After all, were they not following the Master who said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men?”
Imagine how hurt some were when one day a person suggested that those who didn’t catch fish were really not fishermen, no matter how much they claimed to be. Yet it did sound correct. Is a person a fisherman if year after year he never catches a fish? Is one following if he isn’t fishing?