by Scott Latham
Among God’s greatest blessings for us as Christians is the responsibility and privilege to share the good news of Jesus Christ with others. The Word is not specific as to how we go or when, it simply commands us to go and to teach the truth.
In Matt. 28:19-20, we read the familiar and often-quoted passage, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
For many in the Church today, the word “go” is quickly followed by the question, “So where do I begin?” For varying reasons, we are often reluctant to begin a conversation about religion. It may be that we fear offending people, we may fear being slighted, or perhaps we’re reluctant because we feel unprepared to talk about religion and about God’s plan for our lives.
It’s true that many people in today’s fast paced world are simply not focused on spirituality. Instead, our daily schedules are filled with work or school, in rearing children, in trying to get ahead financially, and certainly—often in a large way—social media. Today’s society seems filled with people whose constant question about most things is, “What’s in it for me?”
As Christians, it should be our desire to help others see that God has a plan for their lives. However, preparing ones self to go and teach is no small task. To be effective as teachers, we must first know the Word, and we must be able to relate in some way to those with whom we study. Through prayer, patience and persuasion, we can lead others to the truth.
As such, the first step for each of us as Christians—whether single or married, young or old—is to prepare ourselves to teach. Obeying this command is paramount as we seek to serve our Lord.
Elders and leaders in local congregations of the Church are wise to plan, encourage and monitor the effectiveness of such evangelistic outreach efforts. Despite its size, local congregations can effectively help prepare members to go and teach the Word.
An excellent program congregations can use is The Fishers of Men program, a personal evangelism course designed to prepare Christians to teach God’s Word to others. Generally taught in a group setting over a twelve-week period, the course is an excellent tool that many congregations across the country are turning to for instructing Christians on useful methods of teaching and influencing others.
The course is specifically designed to bolster a Christian’s confidence and effectiveness in one-on-one teaching of the Gospel. Each of the principles and methods taught in the course are quite effective. Utilizing a dozen or more Search For Truth lessons, students are guided through course topics, which according to the Fishers of Men program outline, includes:
- Discovering and developing one’s interest in home Bible study
- Assessing the “heart condition” of prospects
- How and where to get definite appointments for home Bible study
- Dealing with questions and objections
- Teaching effectively
- Creating Godly sorrow
- Persuading scripturally
During the course, program participants will actually complete the Search For Truth lessons that will be used later in teaching others, and have the option of conducting Bible studies with Christians or non-members as part of the course. In addition, role-playing is included in class, which is helpful in learning what to anticipate in studying with others. By learning the material, along with tried and true methods of teaching, those completing the class can expect to be well prepared to go and teach.
Program instructors may be either individuals who have successfully completed the Fishers of Men program in the past, or a full time instructor of the course who conducts classes for congregations. At the University congregation in Montgomery, Alabama where I am a member, we have utilized both. Kyle Massengale of Madison, Alabama taught our initial class, held in the fall of 2000. At that time, Kyle was a member of the nearby Dalraida congregation in Montgomery where the class h ed earlier that year. Since that time, Ron Maynard, who serves as a full-time instructor with Fishers of Men, has taught three additional courses for us with the assistance of his wife, Louise, who helps by coordinating and organizing paperwork. The Maynards, along with other full-time instructors, teach in congregations across the country and also overseas, raising their own financial support. In doing so, these instructors are able to provide the classes and the materials at no cost to the individuals enrolled or the congregations.
Over 150 Christians have enrolled in the four classes offered in our congregation over the past eleven years. The youngest participant I recall was a sixth grader, and the oldest exceeded eighty years of age. In addition to the two-and-one-half hour class commitment one night per week, participants commit to approximately one hour of homework each night consisting of Bible reading along with questions-and-answers. The material, which may be viewed on their website at http://www.fishersofmen.net, is simple, straightforward and easy to use.
Strengthening the faithful and helping to bring lost souls to Christ must be the mission of each Christian. The Fishers of Men program is effective in the Lord’s Church because it prepares Christians to fulfill our God given responsibility and privilege of teaching Biblical truths to those around us.
For additional information on the Fishers of Men program, contact Ron Maynard by calling or texting him at 612-963-2808, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scott Latham is an elder of the University Church of Christ in Montgomery, Alabama, and has worked closely with the Fishers of Men program for several years. He can be reached at email@example.com.