When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “put out into
deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered,
“Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything.
But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” Luke 5:4-6
There are few things I enjoy more than going fishing. I especially enjoy actually catching a few trout in a Colorado stream. There are times, however, when I am like Simon. I have worked hard and haven’t caught a thing. I have used the right fly, the cast was good, and my selection of where to cast was appropriate. There were simply no fish where I was fishing. This was apparently the situation with Simon. He was an experienced fisherman. He knew the lake and he knew how to use the equipment. Again, there were no fish where he was fishing.
The problem of fishing where there are no fish is not unique to Simon and me. It is a common problem in the church as well. I have seen a number of churches that look like attractive places to visit. The pews are comfortable and the songs are pleasant to hear and to sing. The sermons may be excellent. Special programs are even held and lost fish are invited to come. The speakers at these programs are well selected. They feature sports celebrities, various performers and other newsworthy individuals. Despite the extensive planning and preparation, it is seldom that a truly lost person ever shows up at these meetings in most churches. Why is this?
In the last few years, I have begun to study the behavior of trout. I have learned that three things determine their location. These are safety, availability of a food source, and a place where their energy is conserved. First and foremost, they need a place where they feel safe. Secondly, they have basic needs that need to be met. Lastly, they want to be able to live and survive without making any undue effort. People are a lot like trout. They want to be in a place where they feel safe. They will go where they feel comfortable, and where they are accepted as they are. Friends and relationships are a basic human need. They will go to locations and meetings where their friends gather. Additionally, it is much easier for most people to go to someone’s home than a service at a church.
I read two books that were a great encouragement as Beverly and I started home Bible studies years ago. The first of these was “Evangelism as a Lifestyle” by Jim Petersen, and the second was “Your Home a Lighthouse” by Bob Jacks. These books described how easy it was to simply invite friends and neighbors to your home to read the Bible together. We went out of our way to make those invited to the group feel comfortable and welcome. One or two other couples would meet with us in the planning and preparation for the study. In some cases, we met for only eight weeks. Other groups would last for several years. Sometimes, we met at our home, but usually the study was conducted at the home of one of the other participants. Over the years, we have seen people come to know the Lord personally that would never have attended a church. The invitation to go with others to a church came after they grew in their faith.
God does not command the lost to come. He commands us to go. He commands us to go where they are, in the “deep water” of our neighborhoods and workplaces. “As we go” (literally), we are to develop relationships, identifying with them and serving them. Through these relationships, we can invite them to the safe convenient location of a home in which to read the Bible together.
Where is the “deep water” in your web of relationships in which the Lord is calling you to “let down the nets?” My prayer for you is that as you do this faithfully, the fruit through your lives will be like that seen in Luke 5:6, “When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.”
In Christ, Richard Spann