By Nathan Richardson Heartland Community Church, La Porte City

Disciples are Gatherers

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
~ Luke 19:10

Last week we looked at the Five Stages of Discipleship as defined by the book Discipleshift by Jim Putnam. Just a quick review, those five stages were dead, infant, child, young adult and parent. Dead people usually do not find new life in Christ on their own. They usually have help from a parent, friend, a co-worker or a neighbor. During the rest of this article I refer to these type of people as gatherers. Dead people need gatherers in their life to find new life in Christ or to become an infant as we defined it in the five stages of discipleship.
Disciples are always involved in gathering. Gathering people helps the church to grow and move forward. Gathering helps the church to meet new people and engage them wherever they are at in life. Gathering primarily happens outside the walls of the church. Jesus set the example of gathering for us in Luke 5:1-11 when he went out to a lake and saw some fishermen cleaning their nets after a long night of fishing and not being able to catch a single fish. When Jesus saw the need he went in a boat pushed out a little from the waters edge and began to speak. After he was done he told Simon to push out a little further and to cast his nets. Jesus was willing to do anything to initiate a relationship with these fishermen. Simon said, “Master, we have been working hard all night and haven’t caught anything, but because you say so I will let down the nets.” This shows Simon had met Jesus before. He called him Master, and was willing to trust him by letting down the nets. When he did this the nets immediately filled up and began to break. Simon needed help from the others. They pulled the fish into the boats and due to the weight began to sink.
Simon responded to this miracle with, “Go away from me Lord, I am a sinful man.” This is how most of us respond to Jesus. Many people I meet tell me if you knew what I have done you would not accept me. And for this reason many people do not think they are good enough for the church when that could not even be further from the truth. Jesus spent his ministry gathering the rejects, the unloved, and the hopeless. He would hang out with drunks and the gluttons.
Jesus responded to Simon, “Don’t be afraid, from now on you will catch men.” In Matthew and Mark’s account they added “Come, Follow me.” Jesus did not care about Simon’s past, and was inviting Simon, John and James to a new future. Jesus demonstrated for us to invite those who feel lost and are longing for more into a relationship with him. Simon’s response is a big one. He left everything and followed him. He was willing to leave his income, his boats, and his nets. He was willing to leave everything that he had worked hard for. He was willing to take a risk of losing everything for an unpredictable future with Jesus. He left the good for the best without knowing the outcome.
All of this happened because Jesus spent his life bringing hope to a broken and hurting world. He was willing to initiate relationships and gave an invitation to follow. Jesus was the ultimate gatherer, showing us how we should live our lives today going into the world to gather people, sharing the hope and peace that we so desperately need.