On January 24, 2020 I had the opportunity to present the following material to the Satellite School Administrator’s Workshop at the 2020 Sunset Vision Workshop in Lubbock, Texas. It is an updated 2nd Edition of what I presented at the same workshop in 2019 and which I posted here: “Catching Fish!”
“It’s a small town on the banks of a river. Once a week the townsfolk gather at the community center to enjoy a fine meal of freshly fried fish – caught from the local river by the town fisherman.
“The food is excellent, though sometimes limited by the amount the official angler is able to catch that week. Many of the diners would love to enjoy fish more often, but only the town fisherman knows how to fish. Everyone else is dependent on his work for their fish.
“Now, we might wonder why no one else has learned to fish so they can catch fish for themselves. Sadly, no one (not even the town angler) has ever taught them. Some had tried to do it on their own but were frustrated and disappointed by their lack of success, and have concluded only an expert could fish well.”
How many of us know how to fish? Even if not masters of the craft, probably many of us at least know the basics. It turns out that the basic art of fishing is not hard, but neither is it immediately clear how to do it right for someone never exposed to it before. And how has almost everyone initially learned to fish? Was it by reading a book? Watching a YouTube video? Listening to numerous lectures telling us of the importance and value of fishing ourselves? Almost surely not!
I learned to fish from my grandmother. My grandparents lived just a few yards from my childhood home. During the summers, while my grandfather was off at work, my siblings and I would go with her through a neighbor’s pasture to a pond carrying our cane poles. Using freshly dug worms or grasshoppers from the field, we learned to bait our hooks, watch our cork, and carefully pull in the line when a perch took the bobber under. I know we seldom caught much, and my grandmother spent most of her time giving instructions rather than being able to actually fish herself.
WHAT’S THE POINT OF ALL THIS? Most believers depend on an official Bible study expert to weekly “fish and catch” what is then delivered in a lesson or two each Sunday. Nothing wrong with having a minister who studies and imparts his results to the church weekly. But, why can’t many of those Christians learn to do the same? Someone (an expert or at least capable fisherman) needs to teach them how, not just exhort them to do it!
Similarities between learning to fish… and learning how to actually study (not just read) the Bible:
- Best learned by hands-on teaching, sharing and demonstrating.
- Simple, basic tackle is sufficient to begin – pole, line, cork, hook, bait – good reference Bible, dictionary, atlas, commentary – with more tools added over time as needed.
- Early efforts may seem frustrating and unfruitful, but continued tutoring and practice will soon produce satisfying results.
- Learners soon discover the wide variety of ways fishing (and Bible study) can be done – fly fishing, nets, from a boat, etc. – expository, topical, biographical, doctrinal, and more.
- Both learning to fish, and becoming proficient at Bible study, will both feed the one doing it and those with whom they share their “catch.”
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