Mark Wilson is a pastor in Wisconsin and he has written Purple Fish: A Heart for Sharing Jesus as a book on evangelism for everyday Christians. Many of us see evangelism as a special gift that only a few people have, but Wilson shows how having a heart for sharing Jesus with others is available to all! How much better do we share the gospel when it comes from a heart passion, rather than a rote training program?
The strange title comes from ancient near eastern fishermen who would search for a rare shellfish that gave a deep purple dye. The metaphor is that Jesus goes to great lengths to reach people because they are so valuable, so we must imitate Jesus, both in his methodology and valuation of humanity.
Moving evangelism from a pressure and guilt experience to one of practicality and joy is such a gift to the church. If we stop looking at witnessing as a sales pitch, we will be free from the guilt of not meeting our quotas. When Jesus called the disciples who were fishermen, he used their old job to describe their new job; they went from fishing for fish to fishing for men. Fishing was not about pressure and guilt – it was about knowing the water and the fish and being able to respond to the conditions of the sea. While there was no official training program, fishing took a long time to learn to do well, as you worked with and learned from generations ahead of you. I’m ready for a way of sharing my faith that feels like fishing – something that energizes and refreshes my soul.
Here’s some purple quotes:
- p.19, “There are two great metaphors for sharing the gospel: fishing and treasure hunting. The purple fish combines both.”
- p.22/23, “…for most Christians, evangelism feels more like a trip to the dentist than a purple fish fishing adventure…And like so many Christians, I abhorred witnessing and felt guilty about it.”
- p.40, “We cannot share what we do not have. Unless our mission flows from worship and holiness, we’re just hypocrites playing silly religious games.”
- p.94, “Here’s a great prayer to start the day: ‘Jesus, what are you up to today? Can I join you?’ You’ll be surprised at the divine appointments you will encounter.”
- p.133, “Most believers are terrified to share their faith because of their own negative personal encounters with obnoxious Christians, and they definitely don’t want to become ‘one of them.’ “
- p.138, “…net fishing in the New Testament was social rather than solitary: ‘An entire village would fish together and often two boats would work in tandem drag-netting fish in between them.’ “
- p.148, “Jesus is already present in the lives of everyone around us. Our task is to recognize where he is working, and then follow the divine nudge to help others see it too.”