Five keys to catch fish

2/26/2020

Five keys to catch fish
Fishing is not just another activity in the life of the church. It is one of the foundational purposes for which the church exists.
 
The promise of Jesus given to those original hereditary fishermen and women, is that they would learn from him how to catch fish. I have often wondered what caused Peter, Andrew, James and John to literally leave everything to follow this itinerant carpenter?
 
Jesus lured these veteran fishermen in by using what he knew they could not resist; namely, the promise of catching fish. The invitation recorded by Mark was not fancy, but it is a power-packed promise that basically says, “follow me and I’ll show you how to catch people” (Mark 1:16-17).
 
Christianity in the western world, by most accounts, has fallen on hard times. In the language of fishing, our lines are slack, our nets remain empty and we are forced to admit that we are not catching any fish. I don’t believe that Jesus is pleased with our lack of productivity.
 
The United Methodist Church is on the verge of a major separation because of our inability to agree on issues of human sexuality. Our failure to remain united is fueled, in part, by our blaming and shaming each other over the denomination’s decline. Some cite our conservative / traditional views as the reason we are not attracting new people. Some say we have become too liberal and have compromised the gospel message and have lost our ability to witness effectively.
 
I keep trying to point out that it does not matter which side is “right” because we have a major hole in the boat and our ship is taking on water. The only way to “save the Methodist church” is to fix the gaping hole. The hole can only be fixed by Jesus and he will only fix it if we are committed to following him into the aquatic mission field to catch fish. The hole will repair itself as we get back to the primary task of catching fish and making disciples.
 
People often ask me, “what’s the key to catching fish?” When I give them an answer, they often stare at me in disbelief as if to say, “that’s all?” I mean, really, we are not talking rocket science here, it’s fishing!
 
Fishing is easy. Most of you have heard me say, “anybody can fish, I’m going catching!” Catching is not difficult if we follow the lessons that Jesus taught. Jesus guarantees that if we follow his example, we will catch fish. The plan of Jesus reaches people with the love of a gracious God and offers them help and relief from their world of darkness. Jesus catches folks where they are and transforms and transitions them into his new creation.
 
Here are my top five keys to catching fish:

  1. Fish where the fish are at.
  2. Fish where the fish are biting.
  3. Fish with what the fish like to eat.
  4. Fish with the right equipment.
  5. Fish with a willingness to change methodology.
 
I’ll throw in a sixth one for free, although it should not have to be mentioned, “fish like Jesus taught the original disciples.” Jesus calls us to follow him and he has promised that we would be successful if we just take on his character and nature and emulate his behavior.
 
The season of Lent is a season set aside for personal and corporate assessment and renewal. I know that as a United Methodist Bishop I need to be renewed and restored. I need to repent and seek God’s face in search of a new heart, fueled by the passion of Jesus Christ. I need to become even more committed to following Jesus and learning from him how to catch fish.
 
Jesus is still calling and challenging us to join him in the pursuit of catching souls. I invite you as an IGRC family member to join me in catching fish with the Lord. Let’s go catching, anybody can fish!
 
God Bless
Bishop Beard