What is your notion of “normal” when it comes to outreach?
Do you think it is normal to see people come to know Jesus only on an occasional basis? Or do you have a bigger vision that allows for many to come into the kingdom on a regular basis? Our paradigm for seeing ourselves in the process of God is the key to seeing clearly. We are the ones God is using to populate his family. We need to see ourselves in the same light as God sees us if are to be effective in outreach.
It seems that until we are able to nail down our idea of what God has in mind for us in the realm of outreach we will struggle with underachievement. I am excited to explore the bigger picture of what it means to be a person who is bringing others into a relationship with Jesus. I don’t feel I have exactly blazed a trail of effectiveness in this area, but I am seeing some new things that are worth pondering.
If you could picture the task of evangelism as something that is either taken seriously – seeing that people really count, understanding that people are going to live on forever – then it is vitally important that we take this job of seeing them come into the kingdom seriously. Until we are able to see people from God’s perspective we will not be very functional at connecting them with God.
If you were a commercial fisherman you would see things differently than if you picture yourself as a sports fisherman. Ponder with me the implications of this task and what it means to be someone who is aimed out all the time.
Vision For More
In the course of living out the Christian life, it is likely you will have vision problems. I don’t mean problems with your eyes but problems with us continuing to see as God sees. When we enter into life following after Christ we tend to be high on vision and low in the area of understanding roadblocks that might get in the way of us following through on what He has called us into. We tend to see things with the mindset that all things are possible. It is only natural that over a process of time we naturally lose a little of the zeal we originally had.
Excitement for God is something that cannot be stirred up with human mechanisms. We receive zeal from God for his kingdom and the things that are eternal. We can’t manufacture an emotion that will work out in the long run. We are only able to flow with what God has given us as a deposit internally.
“So This Is Normal…“
When we are fishing casually we take a cavalier attitude toward what we catch. We don’t feel compelled to catch something – though it would be nice if we brought some fish home.
When you are a commercial fisherman you take an entirely different attitude toward catching. You must catch or you will not be fulfilling your reason for being. You must catch when you are a commercial fisherperson because you can’t eat if you don’t catch. Commercial fishers don’t see not catching something as an option. They must continually be seeing some fish come in or they can’t rest.
For commercial fisherpeople, it is normal to catch fish on a regular basis. It is highly abnormal to be skunked when you are aiming out into the great blue of the sea of humanity.
How do you conceive of yourself? How do you measure your level of success in life?
For the highly committed fisherperson, all of this is tied up with the larger role of seeing people come into the kingdom. Unless he or she can picture themselves latching onto fish on a regular basis they don’t function all that well.
Commercial fishers can take reasonable risks without being overcome with difficulty and shame. It is impossible to move forward in life without taking a regular college level risk. Humans hate to risk in general. Why so? Because there is the possibility that we might not make it or we might not look so good in the execution of the risk. We are unable to move forward at times in life because we are stuck in the current situation. We don’t need to have all the answers before we start out in our risk-taking, but it is nice to know things are going to be okay when we are done. God is ever unchanging. His love and mercy will prevail no matter what in our lives. We can rest assured that no matter how the current risk turns out we will do well by God.
Let’s step out and take a risk in the name of Jesus. Let’s do what we must do and walk boldly forward. Our ability to fish effectively depends on it. We must get out of the fearful territory we have found ourselves stuck in.
Fleet Fishing Tips
Provide Lots of Ingathering Opportunities
When possible as often as possible redeem the opportunities that God seems to be providing you. When God is present in a big way in your gatherings and it is noticeable that good things are going on it is often possible to do a version of an altar call. Of course, these have to be done with discretion. It is possible to do these too often and make them so standard that they no longer work. From my perspective these days there are too few altar calls being given when God is present in doing something active in the midst of his people. We would probably be better advised to do more altar calls in other words. Just make sure they are led by God’s Spirit and you not doing them in a rote manner.
Begin to See Social Gathering Times As Opportunities for Church Growth
There are lots of things that go on during the course of a year that can count as opportunities for people to connect – OR they can simply be an event with no greater purpose. Why don’t we focus on reaching people at more than specific “outreach” times? Every time we open our doors for a social event we can redeem the opportunity. It’s a matter of perspective. We will see our entire church life greatly invigorated as we open ourselves up to the many opportunities that come our way. For example, when you do a men’s event make sure the goings-on are interesting enough to draw the general public into the discussion. The same holds true for women’s events. Shape your women’s events around the notion that you are equipping the larger cityscape into greater wholeness. Move away from insider events designed for veterans only.
Pray Specifically For Gathering Times To Be Redemptive
It is easy to go through the motions when it comes to church events. We can easily forget the original reason we started out to do a given event. It takes a leader who will champion the cause of the event to keep things on course. If you are seeking to see people come into relationship with Christ it is imperative that you maintain a level head and not get caught up in the minuscule details that prevent you from following through.
As the saying goes, we tend to get what we are looking for in life. It is even truer that we tend to discover what we are praying into existence.
Train your fisher people to look for opportunities that are before them.
After we have prayed, we can count on it that God will send us ample opportunity. The key then becomes that we are able to notice those things he has sent our way.
Having watchful people is essential when it comes to redeeming the opportunities that come our way. We can plan all we want but without the watchful eyes and hearts of your people, you will not see much fruit produced.
As they are able to see what God is up to – when he is moving in the lives of people right in front of them – they can become willing participants in the outreaches God wants to do. The problem is never that God isn’t up to something in our midst. He is up to plenty. Our role is to notice those simple, small things and to join ourselves with him.