Who doesn’t like a good fishing adventure? The sound of the water, the peaceful feeling that sweeps over your body as the breeze brushes your face, and the thrill of victory as you hook the “big one:” these are all great enticements to draw you back to your favorite fishing hole. However, undergirding all successful fishing ventures is one key ingredient: patience. You see, the “big one” rarely bites right away. A fisherman must stay the course, trust the lessons he or she has learned from previous fishing mentors, keep the end goal in sight, and enjoy the adventure along the way until that “whopper” comes along. Without patience and persistence, a fisherman’s mission will fail, and he or she will end the day hungry and discouraged.
Disciplemaking through church planting is remarkably similar. This is the journey that our church, Riva Trace Baptist Church (RTBC), has embraced as we plant our first church, South County Community Church in Shady Side, Md. Jesus Christ, our Lord and Master, actually calls all of us—both as individuals, and corporately as His church—to be fishermen. However, instead of fishing for rockfish, tuna, or salmon, we are fishing for the biggest catch of all, men. In Matthew 4, Jesus Christ issues this call to his first disciples, fishermen by trade, disciplemakers by calling. “‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). That call still applies to all of us today who proclaim Jesus as Savior and Lord. It is better known as “The Great Commission.”
From the outset, Christ makes His call to each of us clear: to multiply and make disciples of Christ. Disciples are most aptly described as apprentices, honing their craft as their Master teaches them, learning to replicate His work. As Christ led by example with the original 12 disciples, we too are called to make disciples who in turn make disciples for the glory of God. Healthy things grow and reproduce, individually and corporately. That’s why we at RTBC are following God’s lead and call to plant churches. We want to be Christ’s witness, to share and proclaim the Gospel to those who have not heard. We want to make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all of Christ’s commands.
We also realize we are not doing this in our own strength. Christ Himself tells us that He is the one making us fishers of men. We are His conduit, and He alone is our power source. What a great amount of pressure that releases from us, allowing us to thoroughly enjoy the journey of church planting! This is even more critical when things do not go as initially planned, and great patience is required. What a privilege it is to be the chosen vessel of our Lord! Yet, it is also a great responsibility.
For us at RTBC, planting churches is a means to an end. It’s about RTBC decreasing and Christ increasing. It is about making disciples who make disciples in areas where not many disciples exist. It is not about bragging rights at the next state convention, but it is about making the population of hell as small as possible, the Kingdom of God as broad as possible, and the glory of God as expansive as possible. Christ casts His vision from the outset, and we join Him on that mission. The amazing thing about God is that His mission will not fail! He has graciously invited us to partner with Him on that mission. The time is now. The call is clear. The cost is great, but the reward is eternal.
There is no time to waste. It is time to go fishing! Who will come with us on the most important and exciting fishing expedition of all time?
Dan Hammer is the Missions Pastor at Riva Trace Baptist Church, Davidsonville, Md. He can be reached at (443) 433-8999 or at email@example.com.