"One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God.He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets.He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 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.” When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken,and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.”So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him." Luke 5:1-11
Yesterday I asked the good people at FredWes this defining question, "Do you want FredWes to become an aquarium or a fishing vessel?"
Perhaps you are thinking, "Explain that statement, Brad."
Okay! You know what an aquarium is and what happens there. Beautiful and exotic fish are kept there, cared for there, put on display there and are admired there. No fish are added to the aquarium unless it replaces one that dies. No fish leave the aquarium unless it dies. Regardless of how large an aquarium is, there is a limited number of fish that can be supported there.
I know of churches like that. I'll bet you could think of a church or two (or three) like that if you think about it.
It doesn't take much effort to have an aquarium. You just need to keep the water warm and clean and feed them occasionally.
By contrast, a fishing boat exists for one purpose and that is to catch fish! Every morning that crew guides the vessel out of safe harbor and out into the open see for the purpose of capturing fish! Every evening they return with their catch!
To keep a church healthy and in "ship shape" requires and ongoing determined effort to go out to catch fish every day. Fish don't jump into the boat, the boat needs to go catch them.
Every church in America can be divided into one of these who categories. A majority of those churches have not taken time to ask themselves that question. No doubt, most of them if confronted would say they are fishing vessels. But no church unintentionally becomes a fishing vessel. It takes a committed and determined effort.
I have been privileged to pastor seven churches. Four of those churches (including FredWes) were healthy and growing. Each of those churches were regularly confronted with this very question. And each time they re-committed to fishing they continued to grow. Those who settled for being an aquarium struggled to grow or maintain growth.
So, Pastor Brad, is this just about growing churches because if it is I'm not sure that's worth my investment?
It is about following Jesus and Jesus promised that if we follow Him we will become fishers of men. And the purpose of fishing is catching isn't it?
If your church is an aquarium and not a fishing vessel something is fishy.