It’s a waste of time to fish in a spot where fish aren’t biting. Wise fishermen move on. They know fish eat at different times of the day in different places. To apply this to ministry, you need to focus on the most receptive people in your area.
This is not a marketing principle. It’s a basic New Testament principle. Jesus told it in the parable of the sower. When you sow seed, some of it falls on rocky ground, some on stony ground, some on hard ground and some on good soil. Wouldn’t it be great if you knew what the good soil was and sowed all your seed there? Why waste seed, time, effort, energy and money?
Mark 1:17 says, “And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men’” (ESV).
Throughout my ministry, God has placed so many different people in my path—people from all different walks of life, from the affluent to the poor, from the important to not important, from the religious to the nonreligious. But a common theme between them all, when confronted with the gospel, is that they will listen if it is presented in a nonthreatening way.
In the book of Mark, Jesus told the apostles that He would make them fishers of men. Now, let me show you how a fisherman works.
In article in a 1972 edition of The Saturday Evening Post, the Rev. Billy Graham was quoted as saying, “The vast majority of American young people are still alienated, uncommitted, and uninvolved. There is a deep vacuum within them. They are searching for individual identity. They are searching for a challenge and a faith. Whoever captures the imagination of the youth of our generation will change the world. Youth movement of the past have been perverted and led by dictators and demagogues. Perhaps the American young people will be captured by Christ.”
Rev. Graham hit it on the head. He did not go into great detail about the symptoms of the youth crisis. He did not detail the issues of pornography, suicide, depression, self-injury and hopelessness, but he did highlight the core issue. He reminded us that their problems are spiritual in nature.
Books and seminars on leadership dominate pastoral reading. And that is good. The axiom is true that an organization or a church does not rise higher than its leader.
But do leadership and ministry equal the same thing? I do not think so. Ministry includes much more.
When I am looking for an example or prototype for ministry, I first look to Jesus. How did He minister? What kind of a minister was He? If He is the Chief Shepherd (Pastor) and I the undershepherd, what kind of pastor or minister am I to be? If I am to follow in His steps, what were His steps?
Let me lift from His ministry a brief moment that encapsulates Jesus’ pastoral concern. I do not pretend that this pericope represents the totality of truth about Jesus as our model for ministry, but I find in it three essentials that serve as an example for us.
Whatever your goals are for the rest of this year, I’d like to encourage you to include at least one goal that helps other churches.
Helping other churches is a multiplication strategy. If you can help someone else do what you do well, you’ve doubled your effectiveness. More importantly, Genesis 12 indicates that we are blessed to be a blessing.
Helping others has always been God’s intention for His people, particularly for leaders.
For the first 15 years, my ministry had been built on an invitation model. In essence, I was saying, “If you come to my camp, my conference, my church, or if you will read one of my books, I can share truth and hope with you.”
But in 2003, my philosophy began to change because God began to amplify the Great Commission in my heart and He began to refine my demographic.
Up until that point, I felt like because we were doing some outside-the-box events and hosting some aggressive conferences that some other churches might not have, our outreach model was effective—but even our outreach was inward. If they wouldn’t come where we were—and many would not—we had no way to reach and influence them.