“And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men” Mark 1:17 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind” Matthew 13:47

The very first references to preaching in the New Testament liken it to the act of a fisherman casting his net out over the water. This method of fishing is quite different to that used by amateur anglers today, who use a rod and reel and attempt to catch only one fish at a time. The most popular fishing device on the sea of Galilee was the cast net. The cast net was circular, about seven metres in diameter, with weights attached to the border. The man would fling the net in a round circle from the shore, but it was also done from boats. It required great skill, since it had to open completely when it landed on the water trapping the fish underneath it. The weights come together as the nets sink and encircle the fish.

Using the net analogy can give us some very real lessons for how we can go about preaching today. The net could not be too big otherwise it would get tangled and not come together in the way intended. Also the fisherman had to make multiple throws in order to find a group of fish. We know from the gospel records that a fisherman could cast over and over all night and yet end up with no fish in his net at all. Also, if the net was not mended carefully, holes would enable the fish to escape; further, if weights were missing, the fish would simply swim through the gap created. The practical aspects of this method of fishing has led us to think about the effectiveness of our ‘net’ and caused us to think about how we can stop many of our ‘human fish’ from simply swimming away into the murky waters of the world never to be seen again.

Both ecclesial preaching activities and individual preaching efforts bring the Truth into contact with hundreds of people each year. This is like the gospel net being thrown time and time again over large schools or individual fish. Yet, like the fish who escape through the holes and gaps in our net, most of these contacts disappear into society and never hear from us again.

What is needed in an ecclesia is a structured method of both casting the net and also ensuring that the fish covered do not escape.

Frequency

Marketing experts know that this problem occurs also in the business world. Some of their experience may help us fine-tune our fishing techniques and up-date our fishing equipment.

In marketing, two terms are used in relation to ‘catching men’. These terms are reach and frequency.

Reach refers to the number of people who hear our message and frequency refers to the number of times the same people are exposed to our message. Research has shown that frequency is in fact more important than reach and that a balance must be struck between the two. As fishermen, we need to not just throw our net out wide but also throw many times to increase the chance of a catch.

In this article we wish to introduce a simple concept to both enhance our reach and frequency and improve our fishing techniques. This concept will enhance both personal and ecclesial preaching.

The contact database

The concept is that of a Contact Database. A contact database is a collection of details about a person that can be used to enable us to simply and effectively keep in touch with the contacts we make when preaching the Truth.

Just think about seminars, for example. How many people have come to seminars at your ecclesia and then disappeared for many reasons and are then lost to us after we have spent so much money and energy to make the contact in the first place? At my ecclesia we had been running the seminars for over ten years and literally hundreds of contacts had come and gone. This had to be rectified. Not just seminars but most ecclesial preaching campaigns usually come in contact with at least some people and yet do we have a methodology to continue the frequency once the initial contact is over?

Not just ecclesial preaching but personal preaching can be greatly enhanced by a contact database. If everyone carried around a card in their wallets or purse for collecting the name and address of everyone they talk to about the Truth, just imagine how many names would be contributed by a whole ecclesia over a one year period.

 

Gosford Christadelphians Information Request CardName:   _____________________

Address: _____________________

_____________________

Phone: _____________________

Email: _____________________

 

The database can be maintained by a brother or sister who has some experience with computers. A basket or box at the rear of the hall can be set up for all members to drop their contact detail cards in each week. The responsible person can then add these to the database. Collecting email addresses allows you to send regular and inexpensive correspondence at the click of a mouse.

I suggest a software package called MYOB. It is a small business accounting package but it also has an excellent contact system. You can produce ‘mail merge’ letters that can be easily personalized and sent out to all or a group of people on your database.

com

Many small business people know how to use  MYOB already and most secretaries and bookkeepers learn to use MYOB at Business College.

For example, personalized letters can be sent to all those in your database inviting them to a special lecture or exhibition. A special personalized letter can also be sent following a major world event like  “9/11” explaining its relevance to Bible prophecy.

A monthly newsletter or simply a pamphlet can be sent every month to all the contacts. MYOB will even print the envelopes out for you, making the job very quick yet very worth while. You can categorize different groups of contacts according to the level of  interest they have shown. The really keen ones could  be sent a book every six months, like Christendom Astray, The Christadelphians or other appropriate titles. What is important, however, is that we are constantly keeping in touch with these people who have shown some interest at some time or another.

 

Gosford Christadelphians“Teaching the Faith of the FIRST Christians”

Mr xxxx xxxx

Xxxxxxxxxxx

xxxxx xx xxxx

Dear xxxxxx

Many people are currently asking us about the recent war in the Middle East and how it relates to Bible prophecy.

In response we are sending out the complimentary booklet enclosed with this letter. We hope it is helpful and answers some of your questions.

Should you wish to talk to someone further about the issue, don’t hesitate to call our  Hotline 1300 112 998 and we will be happy to discuss it with you.

Yours Sincerely,

John Russell, Bible Education Coordinator

As clever as technology may be and as sophisticated as our database may become, we always remember that it is God Who gives the increase. May we all use our best efforts and endeavours to cast our net wide and gather many fish to the glory of our heavenly Father.