Very simply, this parable has to do with the Jesus-given mission of every believer and congregation that exists.
Jesus calls each of his followers to be “fishers of people.” Reaching new people with the gospel of Jesus is the life-blood of a congregation. If new people are not reached, then that congregation will dwindle, decline, and eventually cease to exist.
If followers of Jesus find that the places where they are “fishing” have been “fished-out,” meaning that everyone is already a follower of Jesus, it’s time to seek out a new place to fish, because that’s the mission. And just because one place has been “fished-out,” does not mean that a particular follower’s mission has been completed. No, it’s time to find a new place to fish. Continued existence depends upon it.
The reason behind writing the parable was that I have encountered just such a reason for people not reaching out. The areas in which they live and move have, in their analysis, been “fished-out.” And when I talk about needing to find a different place to “fish,” I’m told they don’t know how to go about finding a different place to “fish.”
My response is that they need to seek out doing different things, taking advantage of different opportunities to interact and connect with different people in the community. Fort Dodge is a community of over 25,000 people. I guarantee that there are many, MANY, people in this community who don’t have a relationship with God through Jesus. I guarantee you that there are many, MANY, people in this community who are not connected to a local congregation. One just has to seek them out.
The real issue in all of this is that of being “mission-minded” and “mission-driven.” Both Matthew, in his gospel, and Luke, in Acts, states that Jesus’ last command to His disciples was to be witnesses and make disciples – THE mission. I think that (and the actions of the apostles and other early followers demonstrate this) this final command must be the one always at the front of the mind of every follower, it must be a driving force, yet, through conversations with multiple people, I find that this is not the case, and probably has not been the case for quite some time.
And eventually what happens is the dwindling and decline of a local congregation until that point when all of its saved resources are consumed and death occurs.
All because of refusing to find new places to fish and, instead, just stop fishing altogether because the place has been “fished-out.”