by Clare Jewell

My dad trained me to be a bobber watcher. It was in his fishing DNA. Place the worm on the hook. Cast the bait into the lake. Watch the bobber. Hook the fish. The process was simple. When the fish were biting, it was effective. But when they didn’t bite, it was mind numbing. We never changed the process. On a bad day, we just changed locations and repeated it. It wasn’t the greatest fishing philosophy, but when I was a kid I bought it—hook, line, and sinker.

In my adult years, I was taught a different strategy: “seek and ye shall find.” Move. Locate. Lure. Catch. When the fish stop biting, move on. Try a different lure. Find a better spot. It didn’t always work, but I had a lot more success.

It’s tempting for church leaders to be bobber watchers. They have a technique, a favorite method, for reaching people with the gospel. They throw out the line and wait and watch in hopes that someone will finally take the bait. If they don’t catch anything, it’s on the fish—they just weren’t biting. Or maybe they blame the fishing hole: it’s been overfished; it’s just not what it used to be. They long for a new spot and are convinced their approach would work if they could just find the right lake.

The real culprit is their inability or unwillingness to discover a new way to fish. They need a paradigm shift. They need to move from top-down leading to team building. They need to empower and release others to fish. They need to discover where the fish are instead of expecting the fish to come to them. They need to see where God is at work and join Him rather than wondering why He never shows up at their favorite fishing hole.

That’s our goal at Regular Baptist Church Planting. We want to help you fish. We want to help you cast a new vision that includes empowering and releasing others to join you on the lake. We want to help you build teams and develop leaders. We want to help you see where God is at work so you can join Him in hauling in a great catch. Jesus invited Peter to try a new spot at the wrong time of day. It seemed like a bad idea to Peter, but he tried it anyway. The result was more than he could handle. He had to cry out for help.

God is ready and able to do for you what He did for Peter. The first step is to stop watching bobbers.

Clare Jewell is national church planting coordinator for Regular Baptist Ministries.