by Bill Wilks
Every child needs a father who will teach him how to fish. I was blessed to have such a father. When I was seven years old, my dad said, “Son, I want to teach you how to fish.” I was so excited. My dad loved to fish, and I wanted to do everything that he did. One day we loaded our fishing gear and headed out to my Uncle Bill’s lake. It was a beautiful private lake just outside of town on my uncle’s farm.
When we arrived, my dad told me there were a lot of fish in this lake and that we were going to catch them. But how? I was only seven; I didn’t know how to fish. Then my dad did something that was a game-changer. He placed in my hands a fishing rod and a reel. “This is a Zebco 33,” he said, “It’s the most simple and reliable fishing reel that you will ever use.”
With only a few tries, I could cast out the bait as I followed my dad’s instructions. That day my dad taught me how to fish with a Zebco 33. He is in heaven now, but thanks to my loving dad, I can still catch fish today.
What I’m glad my dad didn’t do was to take me fishing without teaching me how. I wouldn’t have known where to begin. I probably would have jumped in the water and begun swimming around looking for a fish to catch with my bare hands. It would have never happened. After many failed attempts, even a determined boy like me would be forced to give up. I would have left that day and concluded that fishing was just not my thing.
No loving father would do this. He would never take his son fishing and not teach him how to fish. Yet, this is exactly what we often do in our churches. We preach regularly about the Great Commission and challenge our people to make disciples. But we fail to teach them how. We leave them to learn for themselves, and after many failed attempts, they eventually give up and conclude that disciple-making is just not their thing. They decide to leave fishing for men to the “professionals.”
We preach regularly about the Great Commission and challenge our people to make disciples. But we fail to teach them how. We leave them to learn for themselves, and after many failed attempts, they eventually give up and conclude that disciple-making is just not their thing.
Here is the point. If you want a disciple-making church, you must teach your people how to fish. Before Jesus said, "Go make disciples of all nations," He said to His followers, "Let me teach you how to fish." His invitation was clear. "Follow me," He said, "And I will make you fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19). Just as my father taught me how to fish, Jesus taught His followers how to be fishers of men.
In churches today, every disciple needs someone who will teach them how to fish. But how? How do we teach common people to be Christ-like disciple makers? There are three important things we can learn from Jesus .
IT MUST BE INTENTIONAL
Genuine disciple makers aren't made by accident. When my dad said that he wanted to teach me how to fish, I knew exactly what he meant. His intentions were clear. We were not going bowling. We are going fishing, and he was going to teach me how. Likewise, Jesus was very clear about His intentions for His followers. He told them that He was going to make them into something new. He was going to teach them how to be fishers of men. Jesus was highly intentional about making disciples who make disciples. He didn't make any other kind.
IT MUST BE PERSONAL
We also learn that genuine disciple makers aren't made by discipleship programs. Jesus was a personal disciple maker. He didn't enroll His disciples in a discipleship class; He called them to follow Him. With great patience, He personally trained them to be fishers of men. The same was true for my dad. He didn't buy me a book on fishing or sign me up for a bait casting course. Instead, he put a Zebco 33 in my hands and personally taught me how to use it. He made me believe that I could catch fish, and he fished with me until I was confident enough to do it myself. I cherish the memories of the many hours that we spent fishing together. It was a very personal and relational experience that I will always treasure in my heart.
IT MUST BE REPRODUCIBLE
Finally, we see that genuine disciples make other disciples. That's the very nature of what they do. Like the art of fishing, it's passed down from one generation to the other. My grandfather taught my dad how to fish and my dad taught me. Now, I will have the joy of teaching my grandchildren to fish. Likewise, Jesus taught His followers how to make disciples, and they had the joy of teaching many others. This was the heart and foundation of the early church. In the beginning, they had no church buildings or ministry programs, but they had one thing that we often don't. They had disciples who knew how to make disciples. This was the one main thing that Jesus had trained them to do, and they did it well.
In the beginning, they had no church buildings or ministry programs, but they had one thing that we often don't. They had disciples who knew how to make disciples. This was the one main thing that Jesus had trained them to do, and they did it well.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR MINISTRY
How are you doing in this area? Are you successfully training common people to be Christ-like disciple makers? Do you have an intentional, personal, and reproducible process for making disciples who make disciples? Honestly, most churches don't. Churches today are often guilty of having "discipleship programs" that fail to produce disciple-making people.
I would love to help. As a pastor of over 35 years, God has given me a passion for personal disciple-making. This passion led me to be the founder of D-Life. D-Life exists to equip common people to be Christ-like disciple makers. Through D-Life, my wife, Rondie, and I have traveled extensively to train thousands of believers how to make disciples who make disciples. D-Life is the most intentional, personal, and reproducible process I know for teaching ordinary disciples to be fishers of men.
Rondie and I would be excited to come and lead D-Life training for your ministry. We would also love for you to attend one of our upcoming D-Life training events. For a list of our next five D-Life training events click here.
Please leave your comments or questions below. I would love to hear from you.
Dr. Bill Wilks, has a passion for equipping common people to be Christ-like disciple makers. Bill and his wife, Rondie, have traveled extensively to train thousands of believers how to make disciples who make disciples. Bill and Rondie live near Trussville, AL, where he serves as Lead Pastor of NorthPark Church and Founder of D-Life.
Click the button to see older posts...