I like to eat fish. It is one of my favorite foods. I also like to go fishing…but the two activities can sometimes be at conflict with each other.
If you have ever done much fishing in private lakes, ponds, rivers and creeks, you most likely have seen signs that say “Catch and Release”. What does that mean? It is actually pretty simple. If you catch a fish, after you reel it in, you are to remove the hook and release it back into its habitat. If it is a mouth hook, that is easy. If they have swallowed the hook, you are expected to cut the line to free them vs. pulling their guts out to just save your hook.
There is a church in Spring, Texas that has a fishing pond that is open to the public, but has a sign that it is a “catch and release” pond. The pond is on the church property to serve as a “well” to attract people in the community to come on the campus to do life, even before they would venture into a worship service. Very cool idea.
As I saw their sign, it made me think about the “fishers of men” that Jesus talked about in Matthew 4:19 and Mark 1:17. As fishers of men…and women…are we to have a Catch and Release perspective or a Catch and Consume? Are we to “catch” people through whatever means are appropriate and contextual to our community and release them back into the community or are we to consume them. Obviously I am not talking about the literal act of consuming, as in eating. But more inline with the dictionary definition:
: to use (fuel, time, resources, etc.)
: to destroy (something) with fire
Are we to find people, lead them to saving knowledge of Christ to then consume them in “church” activities that feed the machine? Are they mere fuel to feed the fire of church activity? Are they now relegated to the “holy huddle”?
As I have thought about this, I think that the most healthy churches with the greatest missional focus fall clearly in the catch and release camp versus the catch and consume.
How about your church?