I recall lots of August days like these when dad and I would head to the creek to fish. One of my favorite parts of those trips was getting the bait. I'm not talking about stopping at a gas station for a styrofoam cup of worms (though we did that sometimes); I'm talking about minnows. The times we bought minnows at bait shops they weren't much good; coming from a darkened, overcrowded tank many of them would be floating upside down in the bucket well before we were in the boat and ready to put one on a hook.
Typically we got our minnows from the very creek we were going to fish. But you couldn't catch them by hand; they were way too fast for that. We used a net called a seine (pronounced "sane"), stretched between two poles and dragged upright across a shallow part of the creek where little fish like to gather. I say "we" because it took both of us. If we ever ran out of minnows, we could always pull the canoe over and refill our buckets using the seine and a little teamwork.
Those times and memories bring to mind the way Jesus' disciples caught fish. There are lots of reasons Jesus came into the world precisely when He did. I'm convinced one of those reasons was so He could maximize the method (and metaphor) of net fishing to illustrate the work of His disciples going forward into every generation. "Fishers of men" in Jesus' mind (and to His disciples) would not have been a picture of a lone bait caster standing on a bass boat or fly fishermen wading a Montana stream but of teams of sweaty, straining laborers working together to secure a catch—in a net.
In the economy of Galilee, there was no doubt some level of competition for fish. But a large enough catch simply couldn’t be managed by one boat or crew. Others had to join in if the boat was to be kept from capsizing, the fishermen from being pulled overboard, the net from being shredded, and the catch from being lost.
That's how I want to see Cleveland Hope churches reach our city and region for Christ. Let us pray for the Spirit of Christ to so prepare a catch of souls for the kingdom that we cannot even fathom it, much less manage it on our own as lone pastors or as individual churches. In your efforts you may feel the fatigue and disappointment of what appears to be fruitless toil. The first disciples knew that. What a prelude to the harvest of Pentecost was that miraculous morning catch a few weeks earlier when the resurrected Jesus showed up and told the weary workers to try again on the other side of the boat!
Laboring together as a net-worked body of disciples and churches cooperating (and not competing) in the same effort, sweating, assisting, aiding, celebrating, and going back for more… That’s the kind of association I envision. Not just dollars, but tangible deeds of partnership!
Pray with me for hearts willing to heed the Master’s call to go back and try again, especially when we’re frustrated. Pray with me for hands ready to grab the net and pull alongside each other as partners in the gospel.
Select one nearby Cleveland Hope church and pastor, and then pray for them in your worship service this Sunday. Consider having your members sign a greeting card letting that church and pastor know you prayed for them. Put it in the mail Monday morning and remind your folks to pray for that church & pastor all week long.