Yesterday, I had a break for a few minutes, so I pulled out an old Calvin and Hobbes book that I have and started catching back up with that little boy and his tiger. I love reading and researching, but sometimes, my mind has to have a breather. That little guy absolutely cracks me up. There is nothing he won't try, and being a typical 6 year old kid, some of the things he does makes us as adults really stop and think.
In one of the comic strips yesterday, Calvin and Hobbes are decked out in trench coats, standing out in the pouring rain, Calvin has a fishing pole, and as you look, he's fishing in a puddle on the sidewalk. Now, anybody with any real sense knows you're not going to catch fish in a water puddle on the sidewalk, well, usually. But did that stop him? Oh no, not Calvin. Calvin is going to do what he wants to do and it doesn't matter who likes it, or likes him for doing it, for that matter. He has jumped out of windows with a blanket, taken his mom's umbrella and used it as a parasail, and then there's all those times in the school cafeteria where he tries to gross Susie out with a squid eyeball sandwich.
But puddle fishing? Come on Calvin, that's a stretch, even for you.
And here is what hit me. I love it when stuff like this happens. I don't have any profound theological revelations today, just an observation. One of the big dirty words in a lot of churches is evangelism, that dreaded "E" word. It seems that I remember my Jewish carpenter boss, one time, saying something to a couple guys that sounded something like this, "Come with me and I'll make you fish for people." I may be wrong, but I'm pretty sure he said something like that.
Most churches, however, are doing nothing but puddle fishing. I don't know if they're scared of the water, or scared of falling out of the boat. Maybe they're scared of what they'll actually catch if they cast a line into a body of water bigger than a puddle on a sidewalk. But...in their defense, they are fishing. At least, they think they are.
But what if? What if just a few churches stepped off the sidewalk and began casting their lines in bigger water? Would it really make any difference in the bigger scheme of things? Well, if standing out in the rain holding a fishing pole is your goal, then no. It won't make any difference at all. You can stand out in the rain holding a fishing pole over a puddle on the sidewalk, just like you could over an ocean, and the people passing by would see you holding your fishing pole, in the pouring rain, and say, "Look at that, they are standing in the rain holding a fishing pole, just like they said they were going to."
But, if catching fish is your goal, you're not going to do it in a puddle on the sidewalk. You have to get to a place that actually has some fish to catch. Silly little Calvin. Silly little churches.
My folks at First Church have taken that first step off of the sidewalk and have decided to cast a line into some much deeper water. I'm sure some are a little nervous, because as much as I say I'm not, I'm terrified. I'm not scared of stepping out of the boat, or of failing. I'm not worried about the extra work, or casting a longer line. Actually, terrified might not be the right word, awestruck maybe. I'm in awe of a God who would call us to fish in waters bigger than a sidewalk puddle, and I'm awed by a group of folks who have heard that call and have begun to say yes, and I don't tell them nearly enough how proud I am to be their shepherd.
I guess there is one thing to be said for puddle fishing; there's no worry of having to clean any fish. But, best I've got figured out, cleaning them isn't up to us anyhow. It's our calling to fish for them.