Jesus said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). What Jesus meant by this is plain and obvious. All who follow Him and become His disciples will in turn make other disciples. That is what followers of Christ do. They make other disciples. Making disciples is our chief purpose in life. He commanded us to “go…and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19a). However, to make disciples we must first go fishing. Like Jesus, we must become fishers of men.
Jesus was a fisher of men. After pulling an all nighter in prayer, He went down by the Sea of Galilee to fish for Peter and Andrew. A little farther down shore He fished for James and John. He went to the tax office to fish for Matthew. One by one He went to them and He fished for them. He caught twelve in all who became His disciples. Perhaps we are not told about the ones that got away.
When I was a boy my dad taught me to fish. We would go to my Uncle Bill’s lake, climb into an old paddle boat, and dad would paddle us to his favorite fishing holes. He seemed to always know where the fish would be. Dad would often catch a fish and set the hook, but he would let me reel it in. It was exciting to feel the fish tugging at the other end of the line, and dad always made me feel like I had accomplished something big by reeling that fish into the boat.
Later, my parents purchased a house trailer for a lot on a much larger lake in Centre, Alabama. Lake Weiss covers over 30,000 acres in northeast Alabama, but my dad still seemed to always know where to find the best fishing holes. In fact he made his own fishing holes. Every year after Christmas, dad would ask our friends and neighbors if he could have their live Christmas trees. He would literally tie them to the top of his car and carry them to our lake house. He would bind those trees into bundles and anchor them with a cement block. Then he’d carry them out in our bass boat and drop them in carefully selected points on the lake. That’s how dad knew where many of the best fishing holes were. My dad and I had many good times catching bass and crappie in those fishing holes that few others knew about. Dad went to great lengths to create fishing holes so that we could have great times together catching fish.
As a disciple-maker, where are your fishing holes? Where are you fishing for men and women to disciple. There are countless numbers of men, women, college students, and teenagers who need discipleship. You can begin a discipleship group (D-Group) anytime and anywhere. You simply need to catch some fish.
Think about the kind of fish you want to catch. You want to have some mature fish in your D-Group. You want one or two who can be prepared to lead a new group when it’s time to multiply. You also want to have some baby fish in your D-Group. These need discipleship the most. It’s also important to catch fish who have issues. It’s not hard to find fish who have issues. These fish need someone to come alongside them with loving spiritual accountability and prayer. You have to be patient to catch these kind of fish, but these are big fish who need discipleship. Also, think about fishing holes outside the walls of your church. There are many lost and unchurched fish that need to be caught. They might take the bait and be reeled into a small Bible study group that meets in a home or coffee shop. It’s likely a lost fish will be led to faith in Christ and eventually connect with the church through the fellowship and witness of a D-Group.
I learned a lot about fishing from my dad. He taught me how to fish and showed me that catching fish was fun. From Jesus, we learn how to fish for men and learn that catching fish for disciple-making is the most important calling of our lives. Here are a few things I’ve learned about fishing.
CATCHING FISH REQUIRES PERSISTENCE
Good fishermen go fishing often. They may not always catch a fish, but even when the fish aren’t biting, they enjoy the process of fishing. They are persistent; knowing that eventually they will catch a big one.
As fishers of men, we must go fishing often. Even when the fish aren’t biting, we must enjoy the process. When we invite others to join our D-Group, not everyone will take the bait. Some will turn us down, but we must not get discouraged. There are thousands of fish all around us that need to be discipled. We mush fish with persistence; knowing that eventually we will land all the fish that God wants us to have for our D-Group. We should constantly be fishing for men and training others how to fish. Remember, you only need three or four fish to begin a D-Group, so fish with persistence until you catch them.
CATCHING FISH REQUIRES PATIENCE
Good fishermen are patient. If often takes time to catch a fish. Fishermen train themselves to think like a fish. They never want to scare the fish away, but carefully consider the right bait for making a catch.
Likewise, fishing for men requires patience. It may take time to get your D-Group together. Learn to think like those you are trying to reach. Be patient. You never want to scare fish away, but you don’t want to give up on them either. Prayerfully consider the best ways to invite them to join your group.
CATCHING FISH REQUIRES GOING TO THE RIGHT PLACES
Good fishermen go after the fish. The fish don’t come to them. All fishermen must have some good fishing holes where they can go to catch fish.
Good disciple-makers must have their own personal fishing holes. The fish will not come to you. To be an effective disciple-maker, the church cannot be your only fishing hole. Consider other fishing holes like your neighborhood, workplace, school, club, civic organization, gym, or ball park. These are all great places to build relationships and fish for men and women for your D-Group. If your fishing holes dry up, you must make yourself some new fishing holes. Like my dad who regularly created new fishing holes, we must do likewise in order to live a life of making disciples. Consider getting involved with a club or civic organization. Be intentional about finding new fishing holes and be persistent in fishing for people for your D-Group.
God has called us to lifetime lifestyle of making and multiply disciples. This is our supreme purpose in life. We should always be meeting with a D-Group and multiplying new ones. However, in order to make disciples, we must first go fishing. My dad went to great lengths to catch bass and crappie. Our Heavenly Father wants all of us to go to even greater lengths to catch men and women for disciple-making. Let’s go fishing and and live the D-Life.