When I was young, I enjoyed fishing with my father. Over the years, I learned from him the fundamentals of fishing: use the bait you know the fish will bite. But I had no idea how it would shape my life and ministry.
Different kinds of fish like different kinds of bait. Unless you’re not really interested in catching fish, you shouldn’t spend time fishing with random baits. You must know what kind of fish you’re trying to catch and what kind of bait they will take.
In Matthew 4: 18-22, Jesus calls four of the disciples. First Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, to whom He says, come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people. They decide to go with Him. He goes on and meets James and John. They too, decide to follow Him. Jesus’ words to these four men are both relatable and metaphoric.
Relatably and literally, fishing was a common career in Jesus’ time, especially in terms of the geography of where they were located, being very near the Sea of Galilee.
Metaphorically speaking he refers to men as being fished for. This would have resonated with these young disciples because fishing was what they did on a daily basis.
This, I imagine, would have given them a great view on the lives they were destined to lead and how they would go about doing it. Although Jesus’ words were not many when He called Simon Peter and Andrew, they spoke volumes about the ministry that lay ahead for the disciples, but also for generations upon generations of Christ followers that would come later.
That message is: fish don’t just follow the boat and jump in, you must fish for them.
Again, metaphorically speaking, people don’t just come into faith without being pursued. We must “fish” for them. As I mentioned before, a key component of fishing is having the bait that will attract the fish for which you are fishing.
If you want to minister to different ethnicities of people but generally only have one within your ministry, you must think more critically about how you’re fishing. It’s not enough to just say you want a diverse ministry, you must actively fish for it.
That means using the right bait for those groups of people. In the church, we understand that Jesus draws people to Himself, which makes how Jesus is presented the bait. Whether that’s through the selection of worship songs, the diversity of ministry leaders, the structure of the worship services, etc.
Jesus even presented Himself to particular groups in ways that they could understand Him better. When calling out to Simon Peter and Andrew, he “fished” for them in a way that would attract them, which in their case was by telling them a fishing metaphor. They could understand fishing and therefore more readily received what Jesus offered them.
Good fisherman spend time studying the type of fish they are trying to catch in order to understand what makes them bite. The key phrase here is “spend time.” If we really want our ministries to be more diverse and thus, touch a larger number of people, we must also “spend time” with them to understand what makes them “bite,” i.e. music styles, types of bible studies, what they like to do in their spare time, etc.
Broaden your view and be willing to make the extra sacrifice needed to enhance the scope of your ministry. Happy fishing!