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parable of the fisherman


By Matt Upton


Learn more about the ministry of Free Will Baptist Home Missions.


JAKE LOOKED AROUND THE ROOM, taking in the excitement reflected in the bright eyes of the fishermen assembled before him.

“Today, I will introduce you to the newest and best fishing equipment on the market.”  Holding up a shiny lure he continued, “Today’s fish are much smarter than in the past. Due to the specialized equipment fisherman use in increasing numbers, fish have become suspicious of attempts to catch them. As a result, we must constantly use the newest methods and devices available. They will help us catch fish.”

Jake was the master instructor at a fishing expo. One of the best fishermen of his day, Jake was responsible for developing a number of fishing methods and inventing some of the very best equipment available to fishermen. He has landed some of the biggest fish on record, and is known for his ability to catch fish anywhere, in almost any situation. His success landed him a training position with one of the largest manufacturers of fishing gear. His company flies him all over the world to conduct training seminars and market the newest equipment available. 



Attendees were mesmerized by Jake’s knowledge and understanding of the sport. After a fascinating demonstration, he closed his session by asking, “Are there any questions?”

After a moment of awkward silence a young man in the back raised his hand. Jake acknowledged him and asked, “Yes, young man. What is your question?”

“Sir,” the young man took a gulp of air, obviously nervous to question such an accomplished fisherman, “Would you tell us about the last time you caught a fish?”

Reaching for a flashy pole and shiny lure, Jake began to talk about the precision of the pole and the lure, taking several minutes to comment on the technology behind the tools of successful fishing. Then he told a story about leading a small fishing expedition in 1989.

With a confused look on his face, the young man raised his hand again, “But when and where have you caught fish recently? And, what equipment did you use?”

The truth is that Jake had been so busy teaching and selling the newest and greatest tools, gadgets, and methods that it had been a very long time since he had done any fishing at all.

What a good reminder! We can have all of the latest and greatest “equipment” and know all of the latest methods of winning the lost to Christ, but if we never get out there and fish, they have no benefit. We must get on the water and begin fishing.

Catching fish is not about gadgets, special goodies, or the latest methods. It is about two basic principles:

  1. Fish love to eat and crave food.

  2. We must go where the fish are with what they crave in order to catch them.

Winning people to Christ is the same as fishing. It has very little to do with methods or tools. We simply need to recognize two important principles of winning others to Christ:

  1. Everyone craves a relationship with Christ, even when they cannot articulate what they want.

  2. They will not come to us. We must go to them and offer them the Bread of life.

We must get out of the classroom, out of the seminars, out of the “how to books,” and off the Internet. We need to go where the fish are. This is the Parable of the Fisherman.


Matt Upton serves on the Home Mission Board. He pastors Discovery Free Will Baptist Church in Stockton, CA.


©2007 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists