Throw your net on the other side.
We are headed into the most dangerous time of our ministry year. Enthusiasm for new student outreach has propelled us forward. We’ve seen great advances. And now the great temptation is to settle down and return to the familiar and comfortable.
Peter does this in John 21. He says, “I’m going fishing.” And those early followers of Jesus say, “We’ll come with you.” This wasn’t a recreational fishing trip. Despite Jesus’ call on Peter’s life and his resurrection appearances Peter goes back to what he knows. Fishing.
Peter’s not the only one. In our work on campus we often start out with an enthusiastic plan for reaching new students. But before long our chapter activities, outreach activities, and weekly meetings all begin to look pretty much like they did last year. Some leaders feel the tension. They think, “We wanted to engage more people. We’d hoped to start new ministries. But, people are tired, let’s just settle here for a while.”
Jesus comes to them. His first words indicate that he’s well aware of their situation. “You haven’t caught any fish, have you?” Then he invites them to cast their net on the other side of the boat.
I think that John, the most symbolic of the gospel writers, has a leadership principle in mind. We can’t go back to what we know. Following Jesus and leading people into mission requires that we throw the net onto the other side. It requires us to do the unfamiliar. It requires us to engage new communities. To cast our nets where Jesus directs us instead of asking Jesus to fill the nets we’ve decided to cast.
Let me get practical. Do your chapter activities and demographics look pretty similar this year compared to last year? Are we essentially reaching the same types of students we reached last year? Are we starting the same kinds of groups and hosting the same kinds of meetings?
What would it look like to cast the net on the other side? Who did we meet at NSO who could open up a whole new ministry opportunity for us? What kinds of activities can we do that would have the best chance to integrate large numbers of students into our chapters? How do we need to change our activities so that we are throwing our net on the other side?