LESSON TEXT: Acts 8:6-7; 2:22; Matthew 14:14; 25:43; Galatians 6:2; Acts 9:36; I Timothy 6:18; Proverbs 11:30; Ephesians 5:19.
“To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (I Corinthians 9:22).
LESSON AIM: To study the different ways of attracting men to the gospel.
Teaching Material: A tacklebox filled with all types of lures. From your visual aid packet you will need “Gifts of the Spirit,” “Word of God,” “Compassion,” “Sympathy,” “Good Deeds,” “Tracts and Booklets,” “Home Bible Study,” “Music,” “Church Appearance,” “Good Ushers” and “Good Sunday School Teachers” along with Pictures B through L.
WHAT DO THE FISH LIKE?
The most exciting part of fishing is to throw out some kind of bait and see how quick a fish will be attracted to it. In most lakes and streams, you know pretty well which types of fish live there. It is an established fact that you won’t find a swordfish or a shark in fresh water; so there’s no need to bait your hook for something you know for sure isn’t there.
It matters not that worms and minnows don’t appeal to me as a delectable dish. It’s not what we like to eat-but what do the fish like to eat? Put something out there that will attract them and catch their eye. And if one lure doesn’t work, try another one.
The appetite of fish changes like the appetite of humans. (Pick up several lures.) A purple worm may work wonderful today and tomorrow you can’t get a single strike with it. A “Repala” may be just what the bass are looking for at noon and by three o’clock they won’t touch them.
Even though there are forty or fifty species of fish in one lake, you will only be able to attract a limited number of kinds and sizes of fish with each lure. Catfish are simply not interested in the same lures that will fascinate a trout. This is one of the most important facts to remember while fishing for fish or souls. You must give them something they like if you ever expect to catch them.
WHAT LURES WILL ATTRACT PEOPLE:
Some folks who really desire to win souls seldom ever have any results because the only lure they have in their tacklebox is “Acts 2:38.” We will all agree that this is a tremendous bait and it has won thousands of souls over the past centuries. But if that is the only thing you have in your tacklebox, you have automatically limited yourself. There are thousands of souls in the world that couldn’t care less about Acts 2:38. It doesn’t mean one thing to them and they are simply uninterested. Their appetites are not ready for it. However, if you let them see the love of God shining forth in your life, they will swim in your direction to inquire about this bait.
Experts estimate there are about 30,000 species of fishes. Some have world-wide distribution; some are limited to a single lake or stream. About 4,000 species are listed for North American waters. Many live only in fresh water, but a few divide their lives between fresh and salt water. Some species live only in cold water; others in warm. And there are as many varieties of people, where they live, their habits, what they like, etc.
It would be impossible to discuss all the lures that would attract people just as it would be to discuss all the lures that would attract fish. But the one characteristic that is common to all fish is swimming. The one characteristic common to all people is sinning. We were all born in sin and “shapen in iniquity.” Because the basic needs of men are alike, we can classify the types of lures that will generally attract people.
(As you discuss each of these type lures, place Magni-Vu word and picture on metal board. Since your board will probably not hold all of them at once, remove the pictures after you have shown them and leave only the word or phrase.)
GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT
(Place “Gifts of the Spirit” and Picture B on board.) This is by far the most effective lure the church possesses. These gifts were placed in the Church for the purpose of attracting the multitudes so the gospel might be preached.
Philip used this lure and look at his results: “Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did” (Acts 8:6-7). It is questionable if they would have so readily accepted his gospel if he had not first shown them the power of his gospel. Signs and wonders were used as bait.
The Apostle Peter accredited Jesus Christ’s ministry by the supernatural manifestations which he exhibited. “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know….” (Acts 2:22). Jesus used miracles to prove His authority.
Any local assembly of believers that manifests these precious gifts has an attraction all its own. What a thrill it is to be able to say to the sick and suffering. “Come with me. The cure to your sickness can be found at my church!” When anyone dares to earnestly desire and seek after these gifts, they can be obtained from God.
Of course, every believer does not have supernatural gifts. Does this mean they are without any bait to win the lost? A thousand times NO! God has special lures that even the least in the Kingdom can effectively use.
WORD OF GOD
(Place “Word of God” and Picture C on board.) Next to the gifts of the Spirit, the Word of God has probably won more souls than any other bait. It is amazing how so many people can read right over truth and never see it. But when it is brought to their attention, it all becomes so clear and plain. They wonder how they could have kept from seeing it before!
This lure must be studied diligently to make it effective. Those who carefully study the Scriptures, are the workmen that are not ashamed because they know how to rightly divide the word of Truth, (II Timothy 2:15). And they are also the ones who catch the largest fish!
It must always be remembered that the lure must go where the fish are living. If it is an underwater bait it makes its way into the inner chambers of the living quarters of the fish. It doesn’t mind getting a little dirty in the process, either.
No man ever lived that was more separate and apart from sin and its evil practices than Jesus; yet no man ever stooped lower to love and serve and feel the needs of others than Jesus. “And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick” (Matthew 14:14).
If we could feel compassion as one pastor did, our churches would not have as many vacant seats. He would enter the hospitals and go from room to room. After introducing himself, he would say how sorry he was this person was sick and in the hospital. After finding out if they had children, he told them he was sure they would love to be at home with their babies. As he prayed, he would ask that God would help this person to get home quickly to be with their wife or husband and family. A card was left with his name and the address of his church. You can be sure the first place they wanted to go when they were well again was where that man that was so concerned about their family preached.
There is a real ministry in hospital visitation. Any saint of God who is able to care for the needs of others could be used to great advantage in this type work. One of the most severe condemnations in the Bible is that “I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not” (Matthew 25:43).
(Place “Sympathy” and Picture E on board.) In baiting a hook in real fishing, this act is somewhat hypocritical. The hook, which is intended to destroy them, is attractively covered with something designed to beguile the fish. This is in your interest, Mr. Fish. I’m going to give you something you like so I can catch you and eat you!
But in winning a soul, it really is in their interest that we try to trap them into taking our bait. This is not hypocritical. We are
offering them life instead of death that will surely come if they continue to stay in the water of sin.
If you can prove to a person that you are interested in them and their needs, regardless of their problem, you are well on your way toward winning them. You may not know the solution, but the fact that you have shown an interest just seems to do something for them.
In the time of sorrow and death, people need help. This is a good lure to use in winning people to the Lord. A simple act of sending flowers or taking food to the home or watching over the children could mean so much to a person who needs sympathy. Those first few weeks after the death of a loved one are the hardest of all. There is a period of adjustment that must be made. Any kindness shown during this time to help erase their sorrow will not be forgotten.
“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
(Place “Good Deeds” and Picture F on Magni-Vu board.) This is one of the best ways in the world to make friends. The vast majority of people won to the Lord are those who have first found a “friend” that knew the Lord. Very few strangers will accept the gospel if they know absolutely nothing about you. And with sin abounding as it is, we are all a little leery of those we have never met before.
Rather than try to cram the gospel down a neighbor’s throat, why not make a friend of him first? Try doing something helpful for him.
Why was the town of Joppa so disturbed by the death of Dorcas? Because she was “…full of good works and almsdeeds” (Acts 9:36). Everyone likes to be friends with a person who enjoys doing good things for others.
Paul admonished us “….to do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;” (I Timothy 6:18).
Anything you do to show the love of God is bait. Making clothes for children, fixing a neighbor’s car, keeping children, cooking a pie or cake, and a thousand other ways will show people that you are really interested in them and that you want to be their friend. If you have a grouchy neighbor, mow his grass. Heap coals of fire on his head and soon he will be your friend instead of your enemy.
“….He that winneth souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30). This is wisdom. Finding ways to be helpful to others so that you can gain their
friendship is wisdom.
TRACTS AND BOOKLETS
(Place “Tracts and Booklets” and Picture G on Magni-Vu board.) Tracts and booklets are not necessarily designed to give to friends. They are intended to be spread among the masses of humanity as bait to find a hungry fish. The souls you help to win through tracts and booklets may never be known until the judgment. This is like sowing seed. Who knows what kind of ground it may fall upon?
Passing tracts could be compared to fishing in a brand new lake or stream. You don’t really know what’s in the water. You are just casting. Maybe you will get a bite and maybe you won’t. But who knows? Some other saint of God down life’s road may win this individual to the Lord because they were stirred by what they read in a tract you left somewhere.
This is a simple way to fish and everyone can do it without previous experience. Tracts can be placed in envelopes when you pay your bills. They can be left in public restrooms, motels, airplane, bus, train or taxi seats, in barber or beauty shops cafeterias-or any place that people must wait. Leaving tracts in these various places can help fulfill the obligation each of us has to spread the gospel to the area in which we live.
The important thing to remember in selecting tracts or booklets to distribute is to select colorful ones with pictures in them. Even human fish like something that is lively and attractive. They will pay little or no attention to drab pieces of paper with hundreds of words written on it but no pictures or color.
This type lure should be given to neighbors or friends that you are “fishing” for, only if they seem to show an interest in them. Should they pick one up at your house, let them keep it to read, but don’t try to push it off on them. This could scare your fish away.
HOME BIBLE STUDY
(Place “Home Bible Study” and Picture H on Magni-Vu board.) Thousands of people have been won to the Lord as a direct result of teaching the Bible in their home. One church in Wisconsin now claims around 200 souls because of some expert fishermen who knew how to take a set of Search for Truth Charts and gather a small group of people together and teach them the Word. However, you will probably find that method works best on those with whom you have already made friends.
Not everyone can fish in this manner. But those who can have found that some of the best members in the church are those that were “caught” with this kind of lure.
(Place “Music” and Picture I on Magni-Vu board.) One outstanding feature of the children of God is their style of worship in song and with musical instruments. The Apostle Paul wrote to speak to yourselves “…in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19). No one can sing spiritual songs like spiritual people. Gospel singing is a great attraction to the people of the world and they will come to hear it.
If our music is only intended to entertain, it is all wrong. But if it is to glorify the Lord, it cannot help but draw men to Him. Any church that has a choir that loves to praise and magnify the Lord in song, has a group of fishermen in it that are casting out their lures as they sing. If every special song in our churches was sung with the thought in mind that this might help draw some soul to Christ, or it might bless some weary pilgrim, or it might thrill the heart of the Saviour, surely our singing would be done with a new enthusiasm.
One pastor in Delaware helped to build his congregation through such a bait as this. His weekly radio program featured singing only. Many townspeople would listen to this broadcast because they enjoyed the singing of the pastor and his wife. When they traded in the local stores and gave their name for identification purposes, immediately they were recognized because of the radio program. As a result, many people in town came to church to hear them sing. And while they listened, they also heard a gospel message that pierced their hearts and drew them into the gospel ship. Pentecostal music is a wonderful lure to have in a soul-winner’s tacklebox.
(Place “Church Appearance” and Picture J on Magni-Vu board.) Now we come to a lure that hasn’t been considered too much as an attraction to sinners. The appearance of your parking lot, church sign and church building may not draw people to the Lord-but they can certainly make them run the other way if they are not in good condition.
We must remember that people judge us by their first impressions. If they have trouble finding the church because the sign is missing, you have told them something about yourself. If they have to wade through mudholes to get inside the building, they are learning something about your people. If the restrooms smell so bad they can hardly walk inside them, they will know for sure that you don’t care what others think. If you do not care for their physical comfort, chances are you will not care too much for their spiritual condition.
A building that has cracked or peeling paint, doors that need oiling, floors that are dirty, walls that need painting, etc., are giving the message that the people at this church are careless about their appearance.
(Place “Good Ushers” and Picture K on Magni-Vu board.) Who would ever classify church ushers as fishermen? But they are! A good usher can give such a warm friendly welcome to a visitor that they will immediately be at ease and ready to enjoy the service. On the other hand, if no one is there to greet them and they must go inside and find their own place to sit, there is a feeling of apprehension to begin with.
Most people who visit our churches for the first time are a little frightened, anyway. They need that warm handshake that lets them know we are glad to have them and that we are normal, sensible people.
If there is loud talking and visiting either before or after church, this could scare your fish away. They are not used to such disrespect at the church they came from.
Many fish have been run away because we were not conscious of the kind of impression we were making. Good church ushers can certainly help lure a curious fish into nibbling on the bait so that the Spirit of God can draw them into the boat.
GOOD SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHERS
(Place “Good Sunday School Teachers” and Picture L on Magni-Vu board.)Should you have everything else about your church in first class condition but have teachers who are boring and dull, you can still lose many fish. Suppose the parents in a family are carried away with their class and the morning message and the singing. But one or two of the children come home with the report that they don’t care for their teacher at all. She just read the lesson and the kids cut up the whole time. If that child wants to go back to a former Sunday School, you can be sure the parents will stop and reconsider the whole situation.
If you have new teachers that are untrained, by all means, begin having a monthly or quarterly teacher training session. Every child should leave your church with the feeling of “I can hardly wait until the next service.” Since children have such a tremendous effect upon their parents today, you will be a wise fisherman to see that the right kind of bait is being used in every class to keep students coming back week after week.
If you will think back, the majority of people who receive the Holy Ghost in your revivals are those who have already been attending your Sunday School. The seed that has been sown begins to take root and conviction draws them to God.
Look in your own tacklebox. What kind of lures have you been using? Do you see some new ones you might try? Let students make suggestions of new ways to attract men to the gospel as time permits. If your church needs repairing or cleaning, this would be an excellent opportunity to find volunteers to do the work.
This would be a good week to emphasize leaving tracts in public restrooms, sending them with bills you are paying, etc. Encourage students to keep an accurate report from week to week so they can see how much they are accomplishing toward becoming “fearless fishermen.”
(The above material appeared in Fearless Fisherman, Search for Truth Publication, Houston, TX.)
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