For a Baptist church in Arkansas, Jesus' command to become great "fishers of men" translated this past weekend into great fishermen.
Hundreds of people gathered Saturday at the Hot Springs Convention Center in Hot Springs, Ark., for "The Big Thing" to greet and meet with the top pro fishers in the nation and hear their life-changing stories .
The event, hosted by Hot Springs Baptist Church, was also organized as a time of fellowship and spiritual growth.
With bass fishing becoming a big thing in the south and other parts of the country, the church decided to use the "Big Thing" to draw together the men's fellowship, Iron Men's Ministry, through something they can all relate with, hoping for them to develop their bonds with one another and create a better link to other church activities.
"We want to encourage men in their personal spiritual growth," explained ministry leaders on the Iron Men's Ministry website. "This happens as men build relationships with one another through involvement in worship, Sunday School, small groups, and special events."
The church was able to run "The Big Thing" due to the Wal-Mart-sponsored FLW Tour Championship – one of the two major bass fishing tournaments in the United States that comes through the area at Lake Ouachita. The anglers – including Mark Davis, Jay Yehas, and Jimmy Houston, who acted as the Master of Ceremonies – agreed to speak on the Saturday evening before the tournament began.
During the event, the fishing pros shared tips, techniques, and stories of how they went from an average recreational fisherman to a "World Class Professional Angler." They also shared the "really" big thing that was life-changing and impacts not only their fishing career but their everyday life.
Church leaders hope that through tightening the relationship of the event attendants with church, each of the involved men will become spiritual leaders themselves to help advance God's dream.
"Through specialized studies and events, we want to see our men grow to become the leaders that God desires for them to be," promoters stated in the event's website. "God's Word admonishes us to be no only hearers of the Word, but also doers of the Word. Our desire is to see men grow into positions of real leadership within the Kingdom of God, making an impact at home, as well as on foreign soil."