“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” — Matthew 4:19
This morning, I want to talk about how one purposefully tries to win people to God. After reading my thoughts, I’d like for you to reply to this email or leave in the comments exactly how you try to win people. I like the fishing aspect that Jesus uses. It helps me to visualize the exact moment that I’m purposefully casting the lure into the water and waiting for a fish to bite.
First and foremost, I believe you have to be interested in the people that you want to reach. You have to genuinely care about them. If there is a subgroup of people you couldn’t care less about, you will never reach them for the Lord. I would even say that for many religious people today that there are people they are glad will go to hell and “get what they deserve.” Think about that for a moment! Jesus got blasted for reaching out to people many believed were not worth the time or the effort.
Not everyone we are to fish for is completely lost. Here in the South, most people claim to believe in God. I would even say that most of them have said the “sinner’s prayer” and have been “saved.” This means that there are people who do believe; but they need to be caught and helped to move forward in their faith. This also means that there are Christians who are just down and defeated in life. We must be looking to catch them as well and encourage them to keep moving forward. I think of it as “catch and release.” I’m purposefully trying to draw you in for a conversation about the Lord. Then, I’m going to release you back into the world hopefully a little bit closer to the Lord than you were before our conversation.
As I befriend people who are far from God, I never mention God at first. I want to let them talk about themselves. I fight the urge to talk about myself. I want them to know that I am interested in them and care about them first and foremost. When the conversation eventually gets around to talking about me, I will attempt to briefly mention what the Lord has done in my life and what He means to me. I definitely don’t go for overkill at this point. Over time, it is inevitable that something happens in their life. It may be a sick family member, it may be a health scare, it may be a court appearance, or it may be a vast array of other things weighing on their hearts and minds. Eventually, they will either ask for help or, if I really get a good bite, prayer. At this moment, and only at this moment, do I feel free to tell them how to place complete trust in Him. If they ask for prayer, I’m going for the gold . . . “Lord, show them Your power! Break through, Lord, in a way that my friend knows it was You and only You!” I completely leave the ball in God’s court. I threw the lure out, I got a bite, it is now up to Him to clean them up. I’m so glad He does this. I hate cleaning fish, literally and figuratively.
I remember one time that I had a friend who wanted me to loan him some money. I don’t remember how much it was, maybe $50. I told him that I’d straight up give him the money if he would come to church and sit through the service. I guess he really needed the money because he came and sat through the service. I don’t think he is saved, but we have had many really good conversations about what it means and looks like to really live for the Lord.
Lately God has given me a new way to fish that’s kind of gotten me blasted a little bit. For whatever reason, there are songs that I learned to play and sing years ago that I’ve just never forgotten. I’m talking like scores of songs. Well, my aunt and uncle have opened a brewery. It is an amazing place to just sit and chill. Even if you don’t drink alcohol, you can do like me and drink a cherry cola and eat a soft pretzel. They are both crazy good. Anyway, I’ve been going up there on Thursdays when the crowd is small to medium, setting my stuff up, and playing music. I mostly play the 80’s and 90’s stuff that I remember and play a vast array of stuff with my daughter. However, at some point, I throw out the fishing lure. I don’t announce it or anything, but I just close my eyes and sing to the Lord like it is just Him and me. Most of the time, it gets ignored and I don’t get a bite. However, I want to tell you about two bites that I have gotten.
The first was around the Christmas holidays. I played what is probably my favorite Christmas song, “Born in Bethlehem,” by Third Day. It didn’t seem like anyone was paying attention, but when I was finished this guy asked me, “Hey, what was that song? It was amazing! I’ve got to learn it.” We talked about Third Day. I talked about how I started listening to that music in the first place after God changed my heart, mind, and life. After he left, I prayed for him. I still pray for him as he comes to my mind like right now.
The last one was this past Thursday. Some of you may have watched my little mini Facebook live session. Towards the end, I played “All I Need,” by Shawn McDonald. I didn’t think anyone was paying attention to that one at all. I said, “Hey, is there anything you guys want me to play? I may know it.” Then, this guy said, “Play some more Shawn McDonald.” I was blown away that someone even knew who he was. So, I had a little worship session right there and played “Take My Hand,” and “Open Me.” Afterwards, he said, “You love the Lord, don’t you?” I said, “Yes sir, I do.” He said, “I would have never expected in a million years to come here and hear Shawn McDonald.” We had a great conversation about the Lord.
What about you? How do you do it? Share with me ways that you purposefully fish for people. Maybe you do something that I can do as well. Here is what I know . . . we need to be intentional about it right now more than ever.