Two Boats and a Great Catch of Fish (3rd of 8 Illustrations)
Understanding the Two Structures of God’s Redemptive Mission.
Christians organize themselves into two kinds of structures: First, they organize missionary bands, where there are non-Christian populations. Second, they organize churches after people become Christians. There are two differences. Churches are stable, like a lighthouse. But missionary bands are mobile, “going to the regions beyond.” Churches welcome everyone (My wife and I worship with Pima Indians in Arizona). While churches welcome everyone to come and worship, the Holy Spirit calls some Christians to go as missionaries. In a non-Christian country, the obvious pattern is the missionary band.
A Story. One night Peter and Andrew fished all night but caught nothing. In the morning a large crowd gathered on the beach; Jesus stepped into their boat and taught the crowd. Then Jesus told Peter and Andrew to lower their nets one more time. “Lord,” they replied, “We have fished all night and caught nothing. But at your word we will put out to sea and lower our nets.” You can read the story here. That’s when a miracle happened: thousands of fish filled the net, so that they called out to a second boat for help. Both boats lowered their nets to catch a great number of fish.
“Without the help of the second boat, the catch of fish would surely be lost.” Local congregations and missionary bands: these are the two boats. The one cannot say to the other, “I have no need of you.” In this same way let us cooperate, church administrative boards and mission agencies, for the sake of bringing in an extraordinary catch of souls.
Here are links to all eight illustrations in this series:
 Quoting Bonaventure, the successor to St. Francis. From John R. H. Moorman’s A History of the Franciscan Order: From Its Origins to the Year 1517 (Chicago, Ill.: Franciscan Herald Press, 1988), 141.