Monday, June 6, 2011

We Are Called to Be Fishers, Not Hunters

I believe perhaps our biggest failure in the Church is how we compartmentalize and stigmatize and speak about sharing our faith with others.

I don't like the term "missionary work" when it comes to normal members of the Church. In fact, I really dislike it, based on how it usually is discussed. It implies that all we need to do is "work" harder (with all the negatives that includes). I think it has led to efforts by many members to "figure out who is ready to hear the Gospel" - when we should be opening our mouths with all and believing they will be filled with whatever each individual needs to hear. We too often act as if we are hunters, trying to pinpoint that specific deer that we can bring down with a well-placed shot. I prefer to go back to Jesus' original invitation and act as a fisherman who casts his net and sees what fish swim within its reach.

I like "share the Gospel" better, but I like "share the Gospel by sharing your life" best. The Church and the Gospel are an integral part of who I am, so why shouldn't I talk about it in the normal flow of many conversations? Protestants of every stripe do it that, as do Buddhists and Muslims and all kinds of people. Not everything has to be a "missionary opportunity" - but almost everything deals with my faith and my religion. If I talk naturally about it without concerns about "converting" anyone, those who are touched will ask - and those who aren't won't. I truly believe, based on personal experience, that if I am open to be used, the Lord will put people in my path who want to learn more - but I have to be talking about my life and my faith for them to be touched.

6 comments:

Dallas, Dad, Big D & I said...

I agree that we should share our religion as part of our life. It is our life and if they are interested enough to listen to our life as we do to theirs then let them hear what is really going on. This has given me plenty of opportunities to share with my co-workers and others.

SilverRain said...

I think the reason the "hunting" aspect of missionary work is focused on more is because too often (like actual fishermen) the "fisher" aspect is used as an excuse to sit back and take a nap.

It is too easy to excuse an unwillingness to open one's mouth and talk about the church with a "well, I'm leading by example" and hoping that our countenances will somehow magically communicate our faith to others.

I agree that we are inviting others to hear the Spirit more than trying to take them out with a sniper shot. However, if we're kicked back with our feet up and hat tipped over our eyes, we're not going to notice if a fish does nibble.

One key to missionary work, I think, is to actually believe that the gospel is valuable, and to accept it as part of our lives. Then, we talk about it without having to force ourselves, and our joy in the Gospel comes out in myriads of ways we don't even recognize.

The next and biggest key, however, is to feel charity for our fellowmen and cultivate a daily relationship with the Spirit. To actually want to bless them and help them in any way we can. (Like Ammon did.) Again, when we do this, we open our mouths at the right times to the right people without having to consciously force ourselves to do it.

Papa D said...

"Then, we talk about it without having to force ourselves, and our joy in the Gospel comes out in myriads of ways we don't even recognize."

Amen.

ji said...

I appreciate this perspective, and I like the comparison. Thanks!

Matthew said...

I too love this distinction - well put, Ray.

Rich Alger said...

Amen.

I loved the talk M. Russell Ballard gave in April 2006, "Creating a Gospel-Sharing Home". I think it expresses your same sentiment.

I am going to memorize and use more often the "Share the gospel by sharing my life" phrase.