Elizabethtown—Knowing how many Kentuckians love to hunt and fish, Kentucky Baptist Convention President Tom James urged pastors to “keep fishing.”
“Our job is not to catch fish; our job is to go fishing,” the Bowling Green pastor reminded Kentucky Baptists gathered at Severns Valley Baptist Church Nov. 10. “Here’s an important truth: You can go fishing without catching fish, but you can’t catch fish, without going fishing.”
“When we stand in front of the Lord, He’s not going to say, ‘How many did you catch?'” James continued. “He’s going to say, ‘How many hooks did you wet?’ … How many times did you share the gospel in an attempt to lead someone to faith.”
Pew forum estimates there are more than 5 billion lost people in the world, James noted. “The number is so staggering that we no longer see faces, we see mannequins—people that aren’t real,” he said.
“At times we say, I hope they get what they deserve,” he said. “Aren’t you glad the Lord doesn’t give us what we deserve?”
While some may say that they aren’t concerned about numbers, and that what they want is quality, not quantity, James reminded the crowd of nearly 1,200, “Jesus calls us to be fishers of men.”
“When you go fishing, do you want quantity fish or quality fish?” James asked. “The answer is, yes!” he chuckled. “You want a large quantity of quality fish.”
Fishermen don’t quit in five minutes if they haven’t caught anything, and believers shouldn’t either, he observed, explaining that it may take years of sharing the gospel with someone before they are saved.
“Fish don’t want to be caught. They’re spooked easily,” he said. “They aren’t going to jump into your boat.”
Similarly, people without Christ may resent and resist the person who is sharing the gospel with them. But “keep loving them and keep sharing,” James urged.
Recounting Mark’s story of four men who brought their paralyzed friend to Jesus, James pointed out that the house was packed with people who had gathered to hear Jesus, making it almost impossible for the men to get inside.
“The greatest rumor to get out about your church and mine is the Jesus is in the house,” James said. “I believe that if folks know Jesus is in the house, churches still grow.”
Yet the four men were determined, James continued. The fact their friend was unable to walk and the crowd blocked their access to Jesus didn’t stop them, he pointed out.
The people inside the house “were more concerned about their seats than about the souls outside,” James continued, emphasizing that they were the ones who prevented the paralyzed man from reaching Jesus.
“The greatest obstacle to people coming to Christ are cold, carnal, calloused, critical Christians—those already in the ‘house,'” he admonished.
Tearing off a roof was an unconventional way to get someone to Jesus, James observed, cautioning Kentucky Baptists not to be wary of using untraditional methods to bring people to Jesus.
The first place that Jesus told the man to go after he was healed was home, James emphasized. “We have believed the devil’s lie that the hardest people to witness to is our family,” he said. “If you have been changed by the gospel, the easiest people to witness to ought to be your family, because they’re the ones who see the change in you.”
Imagine the man rolling up his mat and walking home, James continued. “He comes around the corner and there is his little daughter playing in the yard who has never seen her daddy walk. She’s shocked, ‘Daddy, what happen?’ He smiles and says, ‘Honey, I’ve just met Jesus!'”
“That story needs to happen over and over again across the commonwealth,” James said. “Men coming home to their families and saying, ‘Honey, I’ve just met Jesus.'”