By Scott Brown
I have enjoyed fishing for as long as I can remember. My first experiences with the art of angling came at the ripe old age of two. It was then that my dad introduced me my first rod and reel, and more importantly, the lures in his tackle box.
My father’s large metal tackle box opened from the top and separated in the middle. When pulled apart, the two opposing sides of the lid revealed stair-stepped trays on both sides. The segmented trays were filled with an amazing array of lures in every shape and configuration imaginable to my young mind. Dad explained to me that he had different types of lures, so that he was prepared to attract a variety of fish in varied situations.
Some years later, while fly fishing with my uncle, he shared with me the theory of, “Match The Hatch.” Opening his box of beautiful trout flies, he told me that by matching the hatch, one had to literally match the hatching insects or other food species, that the fish were eating.
Matching the hatch simply means observing the type of forage in the body of water you are fishing and choosing a lure that mimics that forage in size, species, and perhaps most importantly, color. So if you want to catch fish, your lure better look and act like the insects or other bait on which the fish are feeding.
Beyond the tackle box I have often thought of the “Match The Hatch” approach in reference to being a fisher of men. In it puts me in mind of a couple of different passages in the New Testament. The first, and most obvious in Matthew 4, is Jesus’ beckoning to the two seasoned fishermen, Andrew and Simon Peter. His promise to them was to take what they knew about catching water-born creatures and now teach them how to angle for the souls of men.
The second passage is the one that makes me think most about my dad’s collection of lures. It comes from Paul’s first letter to the Church in Corinth. In chapter 9 Paul offers himself as the perfect lure in the hands of The Master Fisherman. As Paul observes the variants in culture and situation of the people around him, he became invested in their lives.
To Jew or the Gentile, Paul spoke to them in their understanding. To the weak and the strong, he met them at their level of ability. And to the rich and to the poor, he lived daily life according to what they were accustomed. As Paul became everything to every man, that he might by all means save some, the apostle “Matched The Hatch” of those around him.
A few years ago I had the wonderful opportunity to have a conversation with Evangelist Luis Palou. During our chat, Luis and I spoke about the beautiful diversity of the Body of Christ. Luis was a champion for unique and niche styles of ministry and evangelism; as long as it kept the gospel message at the center. He said to me with his index finger raised, “Scott, there is but one Good News. It is not to be changed or added to. It is to be delivered as Christ lived it and the Spirit empowered it. There is only one Good News.” Then he opened his hand, extending all five fingers, exclaiming, “But there are multiple expressions.”
Like the Apostle Paul, Luis Palou understood the importance of drawing close to the people through their language and life in order to win them for Jesus. What Luis, and I believe Paul, was saying was use the lure that draws the fish in front of you. Jesus fed the hungry when their stomachs were empty. He healed the sick when they were infirmed. He cast out devils when they were plagued. He then proclaimed the Good News of eternity.
I have always been inspired by the way Jim Darnell has used fishing and hunting to engage outdoorsmen. It is a platform, a lure if you will, for greater opportunities to share his faith. Jim’s ministry outside the four walls of the church was what gave me cause to use several of my own interests, to reach into the communities and people that were similarly passionate.
Through my involvement in baseball, I have been able to mentor and pastor ballplayers, from amateur to post-professional. By coaching new authors, I’ve been able to give direction through my own experiences and achievement. With the spirit of entrepreneurship, the Lord has led me to help others start businesses and awaken forgotten dreams. Then most recently, I have had the opportunity to combine my love for working with pre-marital couples and the very quirky world of pop culture cosplay. Each of these interests have become an open door to share in the lives of others.
Take a look inside of your own proverbial tackle box. Are their lures that you haven’t used in a while, or maybe not at all?
What has God already given you that would cause you to be a greater fisher of men?
Presbyterian & Globe International, Development Director.