How To Be “Fishers Of Men” In A Digital Culture | Ep. #113

Pro Church Daily is the show where - in ten minutes or less - you’ll get your daily dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus, while navigating the biggest communication shift we’ve seen in the last 500 years.

May 18th, 2018

Brady talks about how Jesus’ call to be fishers of men translates to the church and our use of social media and technology. Go where the fish are.

What’s In This Session?

  • Alex talks about fishing (1:01)
  • Best time & place to catch fish (2:00)
  • Matthew 4:19 (3:12)
  • Attention is the most valuable commodity your church can possess (4:40)

Show Notes & Resources Mentioned

The Full Transcript

Alex Mills: Well hey there and welcome to Pro Church Daily, the show where in 10 minutes or less you’ll get a daily dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus while we try and navigate the biggest communication shift we’ve seen in the last 500 years. I’m your host, Alex Mills. I’m joined as always by the boss man. It’s Brady Shearer. Today we’re talking about how to be fishers of men in a digital culture. 

Brady Shearer: Everyday, Alex, I take my dog for a walk along the Niagara Parkway, and the parkway directly, in Niagara, goes along with the Niagara River. 

Alex Mills: Yeah. 

Brady Shearer: … at least where I walk. Where I always park my car to get out and begin my walk with my chocolate lab, Ross, the parking lot is always very busy-

Alex Mills: Yeah. 

Brady Shearer: … even at like early in the morning on a weekday. It’s bizarre because it’s one of the very very parking lots that’s actually usually busy. 

Alex Mills: Right. 

Brady Shearer: The reason is — and I’m going to pass this over to you because you are a fisherman-

Alex Mills: Yeah. 

Brady Shearer: … this is a place where fisherman love to park so that they can walk down to the Niagara River. Why is that?

Alex Mills: Well the Niagara River is a massive body of water, and it flows downstream from one Great Lake to another. The water, the rapids there are Class Five rapids in that river which are the highest class of whitewater. The water, the power of the water, the magnitude of it is ridiculous. So that parking lot is strategically placed and there’s a path that walks down to this place called the whirlpool, and what it is, it’s kind of like this resting spot where the current is not as strong as it normally is. There’s a bend in the river, and it creates this gigantic whirlpool.

Now the fish which are salmon, rainbow trout, brown trout, huge game fish — it’s one of the best rainbow trout fisheries in North America — during spawning season they’ll swim upstream from Lake Ontario towards Lake Erie, and what they’ll do is when they hit that whirlpool, because they’ve been swimming up this whitewater for so long when they hit the whirlpool, they get a rest. They all congregate there because the water is a little more still, and they get a break before they continue swimming upriver. So there are opportune times during the year, usually in the fall, throughout the winter, and early spring when that’s where the fish are.

It’s an interesting note that you made that you often see fishermen there in the morning. That’s because in the early morning, so first light, and then in the evening at last light, there’s the opportune time to catch fish there. That’s when the fish are active, it’s when they’re feeding, and it’s also when they’re all congregating near the shore. During the height of the day, during the height of the sun, the fish will actually move out into deeper water and they won’t be accessible from the shore anymore. You can’t drive a boat up there because the water is too insane. You’re a shore fisherman there. At midday, you can’t really catch too many fish there because they’re in deeper water, but first light, last light, it’s when they’re coming shallower because the water is cooler and they’re feeding at that time. That’s why it’s a fishing hotspot in the Niagara River. 

Brady Shearer: Now if you are unlike Alex and you’re like Brady, a lot of what Alex said is brand new information to you. 

Alex Mills: Right. 

Brady Shearer: Makes sense why the parking lot is always very busy when I go to walk Ross. 

Alex Mills: Yeah. 

Brady Shearer: But the more I began thinking about this activity in the Niagara River, the more it got me thinking about the early disciples.

Alex Mills: Right. 

Brady Shearer: In Matthew 4:19, Jesus is calling these disciples who were professional fishermen.

Alex Mills: Right. 

Brady Shearer: He says “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” I think it’s a perfect metaphor for the way that we’re navigating the digital landscape in 2018-

Alex Mills: Yes. 

Brady Shearer: … and beyond because at the end of the day, everything works. That’s what makes understanding and navigating your way through digital so difficult. 

Alex Mills: Right. 

Brady Shearer: If I’m a fisherman, I could probably stand at another point in the Niagara River in an inopportune time of day-

Alex Mills: Right. 

Brady Shearer: … in maybe water that’s a little bit more rapidy.

Alex Mills: Yeah. 

Brady Shearer: That’s a word that you probably use all the time. 

Alex Mills: Yeah, of course. 

Brady Shearer: I’m just taking these … See how quickly I’m picking up the fishermen lingo. 

Alex Mills: Exactly. Yeah, you’re doing very well. 

Brady Shearer: So it’s really rapidy. I could stand there with my fishing rod.

Alex Mills: Put a hotdog on your hook. 

Brady Shearer: You know what? Maybe I’ll catch a fish. 

Alex Mills: Yeah. 

Brady Shearer: There are fish in that water.

Alex Mills: Right. 

Brady Shearer: Just like if you as a church pay $5000 for a billboard, it’s possible because billboards are seen by some people-

Alex Mills: Yeah. 

Brady Shearer: … sometimes. Someone could see that and then take the dramatic action of attending your church, becoming a disciple, and giving a million dollars to your church. 

Alex Mills: Right. 

Brady Shearer: Then you could look at that encounter and say “See, billboards work.” 

Alex Mills: “See, I got a fish in this spot at midday with hotdogs because last time I did it, I caught a fish.”

Brady Shearer: “This will happen again.” This is why it’s important. Much like the fishermen who go at first light and last light in the still water on the shore where all the fish are gathering, similarly we as communicators of the Gospel in 2018 need to go to the places where attention is being paid the most-

Alex Mills: Yeah. 

Brady Shearer: … where people are already gathered. Sure you could go where nobody is, demand them to download your app, and say “See, I caught a fish.”

Alex Mills: Yeah. 

Brady Shearer: But that would not be the most efficient way of doing things. 

Alex Mills: Right. 

Brady Shearer: It would not be the best way of doing things, and it wouldn’t be the most replicable way of doing things. 

Alex Mills: Of course. 

Brady Shearer: At the end of the day, what you’re trying to accomplish with digital media is going where the attention already is because attention is the most valuable commodity your church can possess, but it’s hard to get. 

Alex Mills: Yeah. 

Brady Shearer: So rather than demand people give you attention, go where the attention is already being paid, where you’re allowed to stand on the shore for free and set up a Facebook group-

Alex Mills: Right. 

Brady Shearer: … and gather people where they are already gathered and catch them with your fishing pole which seems like a little bit of a weird metaphor, but it’s the one Jesus used. 

Alex Mills: Yeah, it totally works. 

Brady Shearer: So I’m going to go with it. 

Alex Mills: Yeah. I mean He was speaking directly into their context. Like you said, the people He was talking to when He said that where professional fishermen. So this is the analogy that He used. It wasn’t too on the nose for him. It’s like super legitimate. This is the philosophy, and this is who we’re called to be. I’m a fisher of fish which is fun and it’s a great hobby of mine, but all of us are called to be fishers of men. Especially in this digital culture, we actually can see using analytics and all these tools we have on the internet, we can actually see and know where people are congregating, where the proverbial fish are, and we can go there with this timeless message of hope in Jesus and fulfill that command of Jesus to be fishers of men. 

Brady Shearer: Fishermen know that in the Niagara River the best time, the most optimal time where they are most likely to catch fish … Now I’ve been out fishing with you before, and we haven’t caught anything. There’s no guarantee that just because you’re in the right place at the right time you’re going to catch a fish. 

Alex Mills: Right. 

Brady Shearer: There’s no guarantee that just because you use Facebook ads — most affordable, best way of sharing the message through paid promotion in 2018 — doesn’t mean there’s a guarantee that it’s going to work for your church, but it’s the most likely to work. 

Alex Mills: Yeah. 

Brady Shearer: Similarly, the fisherman that gather at first light and last light in this whirlpool area where the most fish are congregated closest to the shore at the time where they’re most likely to catch fish, they’re going there because it is giving them the best odds at accomplishing their goal. 

Alex Mills: Yeah. 

Brady Shearer: Sure. Be the hero that goes down to the place where nobody else is and says “I caught a fish one time here through a mailer.” I mean great. I’m glad that that worked for you, but it’s not the most efficient, effective way of doing things. Go where you’re going to have the best chance of accomplishing your goal, and just as those that are trying to catch fish are using the best practices of where the fish are gathered the most already, do the same thing with digital platforms. Go where the attention is. Go where everybody is already gathered. Just like in all things, there’s no guarantee that you’re going to catch fish there, but you’re going to give yourself and your church the best chance at accomplishing your goals by using the best practices. 

Alex Mills: Yeah. It’ll also be the best use of your resources.

Brady Shearer: True. 

Alex Mills: I could go down on a Saturday, spend all day during midday trying to catch a fish, maybe catch one, maybe catch two or I could go down early Saturday morning, catch the fish that I was looking for, and have the rest of my day to use. For me, I often think about use of resources often being time when I’m going fishing. 

Brady Shearer: That’s great. 

Alex Mills: I could go down and try and catch a fish at midday because I can sleep in if I do that or I can get up early, get down to the river at 5:00, and catch some fish. 

Brady Shearer: There’s a little bit of discomfort that comes with getting up so early-

Alex Mills: Yeah. 

Brady Shearer: … in the morning, but you also know that that’s the best use of resources. 

Alex Mills: Yeah. 

Brady Shearer: It’s probably much more familiar to do the mailer that you’ve always done as a church. It’s probably not as comfortable to try to figure out Facebook ads, but we have limited resources as churches: time, money, creative bandwidth. 

Alex Mills: Yeah. 

Brady Shearer: We’ve got to use those to the best of their ability to get the best [ROY 00:08:39]. 

Alex Mills: Love it. 

Brady Shearer: That was a great point though from you-

Alex Mills: Oh, thanks. 

Brady Shearer: … on the resources. 

Alex Mills: Thanks. 

Brady Shearer: It’s props. 

Alex Mills: Thanks. 

Brady Shearer: You are not just-

Alex Mills: I’m not just a fisherman. 

Brady Shearer: … a fisher of fish. You are a fisher of men- 

Alex Mills: There you go. 

Brady Shearer: … and women as a minister of the Gospel. 

Alex Mills: There it is. 

Brady Shearer: Alex [inaudible 00:08:51] is the best everybody. Follow him on Instagram. That’ll do it for today’s episode of Pro Church Daily. We’ll see you next time.