Posted on : Wednesday December 9, 2009

By Shannon Baker, BCM/D National Correspondent

TOWSON, Md.—Gary Hollingsworth, senior pastor of Immanuel Church in Little Rock, Ark., encourages Christians to connect with today’s culture by “fishing.”

Gary Hollingsworth

Gary Hollingsworth

Hollingsworth, a keynote speaker for the Monday morning session of the Nov. 8-10 annual meeting of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware in Towson, Md., used John 21:1-6, where the post-resurrected Jesus tells the disciples to put their nets out on the other side of their boat. After being unable to catch any fish all night long, the disciples listened and caught 153 fish.

Using the story’s fishing as an analogy for evangelism, Hollingsworth suggested three principles in answer to “How do we learn to fish in the culture we now live?”

Just making slight adjustments has the potential of making great harvests.

Hollingsworth noted that the disciples were successful when they followed Jesus’ recommendation to fish on the other side of the boat. Similarly, he shared how his church chose to serve in the community and partner in the schools.

“We made the adjustment. Instead of expecting them to come to us, we went to them,” he said.

He also noted international evangelist Luis Palau’s move from once successful crusade events to now setting up festivals that are more appealing to today’s crowds. One such event in Little Rock drew in thousands of participants, and Hollingsworth’s church participated in the various ministries.

Jesus is interested in Christians reaching the multitudes.

The opportunity has never been greater to reach the multitudes, Hollingsworth noted.

In her book, “Righteous,” journalist Lauren Sandler, an atheist, predicted that unless atheists and secularists do something, there is going to be another spiritual awakening.
Hollingsworth said, “Even the atheists recognize the power of reaching the multitudes. Jesus is interested in reaching the multitudes, and so should we.”

Working in the flesh produces absolutely nothing.

“We cannot be dependent on our structures and strategies without the Spirit of God,” Hollingsworth asserted, noting that, though the disciples were experienced fisherman, on their own they were unable to catch any fish all night.

“The men knew how to fish, but Jesus knew the fish! It’s not about having better techniques,” he stressed. “When you get on His plan and agenda, there’s going to be a great harvest.”

Hollingsworth concluded, “We need to take the tools that God puts in our hands and use them to reach the multitudes for Christ, making adjustments as necessary as the Holy Spirit leads so that we may have a large harvest.”