Catch-and-Release Evangelism

Lori 2016Do you know people who spread the gospel for sport?

I’ve been guilty of this.

Practicing a sort of catch and release mentality in the process of fishing for men. A process whereby one snags a live one, reels it in, weighs it, adds it to the tally, but then tosses it back. The soul valued only for the mark on the catch column, a bragging right, a blog post, a testimony meant to direct the spotlight toward the apostle-for-sport.

Stories emerging on Planned Parenthood repel us, as well they should. Human beings are not stock inventory for body parts but neither are they collections of souls to mount like trophies on the walls of the fellowship hall or register like the number of burgers served on the golden arches of your local church.

A baby Christian soul needs a warm place to hide, a refuge in which to mature, a sanctuary where they can develop until God determines the time for them to cut the cord. Even then, he or she needs guidance, direction, milky servings of Biblical truth, tending, educating, and lots of love as they fall down repeatedly taking their first steps.

God surrounded us by things that grow – flowers, trees, vegetables, chickens, children – to demonstrate the process so we wouldn’t miss the point

And yet, we blind ourselves, don’t we, whenever we glimpse a process that might require work, diligence, discipline, persistence, patience, or steadfast love. Fishing for men is such a task.

Serious fishers of men don’t drop their line into the waters unless they’re prepared to commit, unless their ready


for the long haul. They know it’s work but for them, there’s nowhere else to be but out on the waters fishing with their Father.

Catch-and-release, that’s something for the sportsman, the weekend camper, the child at play. Fishers of men know a soul deserves more even if it means their numbers do not impress. Fishers of men aren’t gauging your reaction to their tally, they’re listening to the wind, watching the sky, and waiting, waiting, waiting for the first gentle tug.

This isn’t, to them, a game. This is survival. This is the calling. This is their Father’s business and they are on board. To them this is no sport but they are the ones to whom He reveals the true adventure.

Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters; they saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep. For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their evil plight; they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits’ end. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.” Psalm 107 23-32 (ESV)

Do you hear His call to be fishers of men? Are you in it for the long haul, loved ones? He doesn’t do catch-and-release or we’d all still be adrift, wouldn’t we?

We all have our part to play in the work. Some plant seeds while others tend and still others, reap the harvest. But we must always remember a soul is a soul, not a number, not a project, not a notch on our belts. Souls, like children, need care and feeding to grow up properly in a world committed to their demise. Catch-and-release works with fish but never with souls.

What form of evangelism are you practicing?

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