8.18.2005

hunter or angler?

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I read this article and wanted to share it with you. It’s got some great points about the technique that Jesus told his followers to use when sharing the gospel.

Hunter or Angler?

When Jesus called a crusty fisherman by the name of Peter to become a disciple, he promised that he would become a "fisher of men.” Throughout my Christian life, I have heard that same analogy used to describe the process of leading people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Sometime ago, however, I realized that when presenting the Gospel to many people, I approached it more like I was hunting than fishing. This, in spite of the fact that nowhere does the Bible say to be "hunters of men.”

You see, my approach was to "load my gospel gun” lay in wait or sneak up on someone and then blast away in a rather rapid-fire way, expecting them to understand their need, comprehend what God had done for them, trust me enough to believe that I wasn't crazy, respond to the Holy Spirit's invitation and believe on Christ as Lord and Savior in a matter of minutes. Indeed much of my emphasis was on locating my "prey” delivering my "message" and bagging my conquest. It really was quite foolish, if not unbiblical.

Growing up in the Midwest as I did, hunting and fishing were common pastimes. I've always been more of a fisherman than a hunter – though I’ve done both. Hunting is really quite a violent pursuit that involves ambush and power. The object is to locate your target and blast away.

Fishing however, requires much more finesse. One scouts the prime locations, hopes for good weather conditions, checks the wind, selects bait and equipment thoughtfully, prepares the hook carefully and then often waits patiently. There’s a lot of strategy and care in the process. Some days you'll go all day without a nibble. Other days you bring home a full stringer. Some fish bite and leave. Some chomp and stay. It's really quite different than hunting.

Now I realize that soul-winning and hunting and fishing analogies have their limitations, and I don't want to stretch a comparison to a ridiculous extent. At the same time, I became convicted upon thinking of my own approach to telling others about Christ that I should be more of a fisherman and less of a hunter.

I wonder how many times I frightened people away from the Gospel message because I was too brash, too impatient, too self-absorbed and in the end, I missed my chance to be God's agent in drawing a person to Himself.

I'm thinking of several times when had I been gentler, kinder, prepared the “bait” more carefully that I'm sure I could have been a more effective ambassador for the Gospel.

By Dan Burrell
In the Trinity Tribune



5 comments:

homebrewer said...

I like the concept except for the part about selecting the bait etc. Seems to me the bait is our lives. Like the passage in which Paul tells us to "have a ready answer for the hope that is in you".

Analogies (even in the Bible) are not something to examine too closely. For example, the fishermen Jesus talked to were net fishermen, no bait used at all. Does this mean it is wrong to use attractors to speak to people? Since net fishing isn't about specific fish, one fish at a time, is it ok to "witness" to individuals or does it have to be to goups only?

One analogy concept I like to think about is the nature of a witness. In court what is a witness allowed to do? Do they choose the judge? Choose the jury? Can they volunteer information? Can they tell the judge what should be decided? No. A witness simply anwers questions about the things that he or she has experienced firsthand.

jimmy said...

Excellent. The Judge and jury example is great!

Devostevo said...

I really like the concept of being a fisherman rather than being a hunter. I think, we as Christians use the hunting approach far too often and don't even realize it. As far as how we fish, referring to homebrewer's comment, I think we can use both approaches.
First: we can witness to individuals by using our lifestyle as "bait" among the people we come in contact with everyday.
Second: we can also use the net fishing approach in that we have large events such as "Spirit West Coast" or "Louis Palau Crusade" or "Harvest Festivals".

Gina said...

"I wonder how many times I frightened people away from the Gospel message because I was too brash, too impatient, too self-absorbed and in the end, I missed my chance to be God's agent in drawing a person to Himself."
I was talking to a coworker (nurse) just this week and we were discussing how weird it is that in an occupation that is service oriented, how much selfishness we see. It just doesn't make sense that we would want to serve others with ourselves in mind. It's impossible. You're service is really going to be lousy when you are doing it for yourself--to make yourself feel good about what you're doing, serving only when it's convenient or comfortable etc. The "hunter" approach seems far more selfish to me. Our selfless service and love is what is going to be the bait. The "hunter" approach just scares people away. What's that verse that talks about speaking without love? A clanging symbol? How well does hunting/fishing go when you walk around clanging a symbol?

curious servant said...

An important aspect of the fishing analogy is the patience. We do our part in the preparation, and let the Lord do his part in bringing it all together.

There is another important thing I think should be considered in sharing the gospel in today's culture. And that is accepting our culture on its terms and tailoring one's approach accordingly.

The moder world view has passed on to the post-modern view and it makes a difference. The modern view relied on logic and persuasive reasoning. C. S. Lewis was excellent at this approach.

But the post-modernist is not persuaded by logic and reasoning. PCness has taught our society that everyone has their own viewpoint and that what may be true for one person may not be true for another. To each his own has won the day.

So for a post-modern audience a better approach is often the narrative. Telling a personal story, an experience that can be shared, will affect many people more.

Folks have become quite adept at disregarding persuasive argument (probably due to the continual onslaught of advertising).

But a personal tale relates on another level and is not so easily dismissed.