“They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.'” (Matthew 4:18-19)
Jesus called his followers to fish for people. His followers now, across America, largely gather on Sundays to watch a show that might, on a good day, relate to fishing, but which never obligates any of them to head for the shore. We are not the sailors you would expect to find gathered around the teachings of a fisherman.
Fishing for the American church is in a big shift right now. It used to be that if you wanted to attract to people to your church, you would just lay out a big net, and eventually some amount of fish would swim into it, you would be hailed as an evangelist, and you could write a book on church growth. That system is dependent on a culture where
- A good deal of the population feels obligated to go to church, and
- Church exists in a culture that is generally friendly to and supportive of it
That day is over. The American church is poised to fall like a domino behind the European and Canadian churches.
There are some decent churches which are shuttering their windows and locking their doors for the last time, and the people are baffled as to why it’s happening. They’re such a nice congregation after all. They have a nice facility. They have history. Those are all a net thrown where there are no fish.
The American church is now going to have to switch from net fishing to line fishing. We’re going to have to cast to reach the fish. We’re going to have to walk to new spaces. Throwing out a net and waiting is a fruitless activity, because the fish aren’t swimming to church. The Fisherman is teaching us a new skill, and we either learn or we go home hungry.
Specifically, any follower of Jesus must see themselves on a daily mission to share the good news of Jesus with a lost world. At work, at school, and in line at the grocery store, faithful Jesus-followers and fishermen in training must remember that they are called to a mission. The mission is not to sit in a chair on Sunday.