“I am a net, my job is to catch fish.” I heard these words during a recent conversation I had with a well-known country musician that gave his life to Christ some years ago and then devoted himself to evangelism through Gospel music. He explained how much God has been blessing him and how many “fish” he had “caught.” To be fair, he gave all the glory to Christ, at least in his words. My friend went on to explain that it was his calling in life to catch and bring in new believers, but he left the Church to do the rest. As an evangelist myself, I couldn’t help but consider the question: “Is that really what God calls us to do?”
Yes, in fact, in Matthew 4:19 Jesus does tell his disciples that He will make them fishers of men. But did Jesus ever suggest that the disciples should stop at catching men? No. Jesus went well beyond merely catching men. He taught that it was the responsibility of the disciple to teach those that are “caught” to observe all that the disciples have learned from Jesus (Matt. 28:19-20). Jesus never suggested handing these people off to anyone else—the Church or otherwise.
I spend much of my time in difficult contexts: prisons, inner cities, and other violent and impoverished environments. In these communities, as with any, the real question is, “What is a win?” Is “a win” having someone pray a prayer (even a sincere prayer of repentance and faith)? Or, perhaps, is “a win” having someone join a local church? These are important and necessary, of course, but I suggest that Jesus would not define “a win” this way. I believe that, for Jesus, the battle was not over until a disciple was birthed. A disciple is not fully birthed until he or she is able to make a disciple (see the emphasis on teaching in Matt. 28:19-20).
How could the above observation change your strategy? I propose, certainly in reaching challenging communities, that long-term strategies are necessary.
Here are some aspects of which you should remain aware when committing to a long-term strategy:
1. Be intentional—plan to go with a plan, then go;
2. Be committed—plan to stick with it for years, if necessary;
3. Be a disciple-maker—plan to engage using the only method to which you have been called: making disciples.
There are many efficient ways to “win” the lost. But I wonder sometimes if we have begun “microwaving” believers. That is, I believe many Christians have adopted a “get-in-and-get-out” strategy that God never commissioned.
What if you purposed to engage a people group within your own community? What if you continue to be a part of their life for months and years? What if your mission there is to make disciples? What would that community look like in ten years if each of your disciples became disciple-makers themselves?
If these ideas resonate with you, here are three options:
- REACT. Do something.
- RESPOND. Leave a comment on this post.
- REPOST. Repost this link on Twitter, Facebook or your blog.