Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Sharing the Gospel vs. Doing Missionary Work: Net Fishing vs. Rifle Hunting

I like to frame sharing the Gospel / missionary work in terms of fishing and hunting.

Think about the last person you shared the Gospel with or invited to a church activity. Why did you talk with that particular person?  When I am leading a lesson discussion, I try to get three or four answers (which almost always center on a shared interest or friendship or determination of readiness), and then I explain the difference between fishing in Jesus' time and hunting in our time.

Jesus didn't bait a hook and cast a line into the water in the exact spot where he thought the fish were most likely to be hiding. Jesus threw out his net and gathered in whatever fish swam into it. He preached to the masses and let people follow him if they chose to do so. On the other hand, we tend to grab our rifles and try to find the perfect target for our message - saving our bullets for the right one and even praying that the right one will walk into our scope sights.

I'm not talking about approaching everyone we see, like a full-time missionary, but rather talking with everyone we meet about whatever normal, everyday thing pops into our minds and seeing where the conversation leads.  I'm talking about casting our lives upon the waters and seeing who swims up to us and wants to talk about our lives. 

My brother was raised in central, rural Utah. The hunting approach was the only possible approach, since each ward had about 500 members and maybe 5-10 non-members living within its boundaries. Thus, every non-member had been shot at multiple times and was adapt at ducking the bullets and/or finding good cover. When he moved to Oklahoma, he told me he was amazed at how naturally and openly everyone talked about church and religion and God. It was done in the course of normal conversation - no conversion motive and not awkwardly, just as part of regular life.

Likewise, my mother couldn't carry on a conversation for more than about 10 minutes without having the discussion include some aspect of the Gospel, since it simply was part of how she viewed life. She never preached to people or overtly even talked about the Church; rather, she simply talked with them - and Gospel principles leaked into the conversation.

To me, that is the heart of pure Gospel sharing - when it just comes up naturally because of who you are as you talk about life.

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