LAUNCH! One Word Changed Everything For Me.

“LAUNCH out into the deep, and let down your nets for a catch.” Luke 5:4

Peter was a Type A who had been doing everything he knew to do. Working hard, tiring himself out, much effort, little effectiveness, he was pretty much always mending his nets, but that didn’t mean he was successful. The nets were empty and he was frustrated and exhausted.

Then the landlubber he calls Lord stands in Peter’s boat as if he owns it and says ‘Launch out into deep water’

That word LAUNCH changed everything for Peter, and reading this passage a few years ago it did so for me too. It has become the name of the multiplication event I helped found, which has now been challenging and equipping hundreds of leaders from around the world to dream bigger and adventure further, to go where God is sending them to reach those he wants them to reach.

“Launch” is from epanago, which means “bring up”, “stir up”. “excite”, “lead back”, “elevate”, “exalt”, “bring back”, “withdraw”, “retreat”, and “put out to sea”. That’s what we will do again in November! Retreat to advance, get together to go further.

Peter had been staying close to shore, casting in the shallow end and working alone. Sometimes it’s easier to stay in the shallow areas where we can see and touch the bottom. The deeper water looks scary so we resign ourselves to the place we’re at, the results we are seeing, even though it feels like we’re going nowhere. It’s an illusion of security, imposing unnecessary limitations to stay safe near the harbour and hold onto what he have.

But the deeper water is where multiplication happens, because it’s where all the fish are. Jesus called Peter to fish for people. The job of a fisherman is not to sit in the boat – you’re there to catch fish! Jesus wants us to catch six footers!

How not to compete for the market – Blue Ocean.

The ‘market’ for church is actually tiny. There are not many people near me likely to wake up on Sunday and think they might try my church unless they are already Christians. That’s like hoping the fish jump in the boat.

If you aim at the existing ‘market’ the only way to get the fish and do what everyone else does but just a little bit better, you get a tiny advantage over the others. The latest nets, shinier boat.

But when you start doing things nobody else is doing to reach people nobody else is reaching, you see a massive gain possibility.

When consulting with leaders in the business world, one of the first questions I ask them is ‘WHAT BUSINESS ARE YOU IN?

Usually they start by describing what they sell or what they make or what they do, rather than talking about the difference they make. The benefit they provide. What makes the business more compelling is when we see it’s not ‘catering’ or ‘restaurant’ but it’s ‘providing delicious organic food in a quirky environment, for people who have great taste.’

The church needs to operate with a Blue Ocean Strategy. In their best seller Professors W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne looked at how 150 companies moved from red oceans of bloody competition and existing methods – to blue oceans of profitable growth.

Where you open up in an area where nobody else is, doing things nobody else is doing.

If you’re in a red ocean where all the sharks are biting and fighting in the same spot for a shrinking pool you’ll soon get hungry or eaten up. Or you can go to the blue ocean – if you go out to the deep, put the nets out the other side of the boat – that’s where multiplication growth possibility lies!

In the book they start out looking at Cirque De Soleil. Just a few circus performers got together but they who radically reimagined what going to the circus means. 

This is the difference between Blockbuster and Netflix. Did you know Blockbuster had the chance to buy Netflix early on for $50 million? They didn’t understand that these people owned the future because they were in the blue ocean rather than fishing in the red ocean. 

Uber did it with taxis. ‘Air B & B’ did it with hotels, and the pace of change is so fast that as I write someone else will be going where they’re afraid to go!

In an interview with Forbes magazine Kim used Apple as an example (doesn’t everyone?)

“(Apple) was once a PC maker in a mature and unattractive industry. By making a series of blue ocean strategic moves such as iPod, iTunes, iPhone, and iPad, Apple not only achieved sustained profitable growth, but also revitalized the declining consumer electronics industry. Apple achieved its success not by investing in what was hot in the marketplace, but by making strategic moves to lead and shape the evolution of a declining industry. From the perspective of blue ocean strategy, companies seeking profitable growth should not focus their efforts on identifying an existing lucrative market, but should set out to create and capture one.”

This, they say is how you create ‘raving fans for life, not consumer customers.’

I remember hearing Jim Collins years ago at a Willow Creek Leadership Summit saying to church leaders ‘Your competition is never other churches. Your competition is everything else people could be doing on a Sunday morning.’ That’s true to a certain extent. But why would we restrict the work of God to an hour or two? If we just try to get people to our church, the best we ever get is church goers. Jesus wants us to make disciples who make disciples.

The Blue Ocean strategy would say actually the way forward is not to focus on your ‘competition,’ because that focus means ‘then you’ll just end up looking like the competition’.

Instead they talk about identifying three types of NON-CUSTOMERS you could focus on reaching out to

  1. Occasional users– people who come into contact with you but don’t buy in yet

2. Refusers of other similar products. This might include for us people who used to have some kind of religious faith but rejected it and now have none.

3. Unexplored customers– the people nobody else is even going for.

The big question is ‘What do we need to STOP doing and what do we need to START doing, to reach these people?’ 

Then we start to see what we weren’t seeing before so we can do what we didn’t do before and stop doing what we have always done, because it’s always been done – and start now to sail from the red to the blue, and do what nobody else was doing, to reach who nobody else is reaching.

It’s not easy to hear that you’re fishing in the wrong spot. Imagine how Peter felt when this carpenter gives advice on the thing he’s the expert in. He’s been doing this all his life!  “Mt father and grandfather fished this lake before me!”

Most church leaders are teachers. It takes humility to put yourself in the position of a perpetual learner. But that’s what a disciple of Jesus is and you have to do that and grow or you plateau where you are. I‘d love you to join us at LAUNCH this year as we learn again together with some incredible disciple-leaders.

Spaces are limited, we have over 400 booked in as I write and the price will jump soon.

I love Peter’s response to Jesus’ challenge: “IF YOU SAY SO, I WILL.” He could have let past frustrations, failures or pride keep him from seizing the opportunity. Maybe it’s out of exasperation or desperation, but he does it! He doesn’t change his purpose, but he’s willing to change his practice. 

When you read on you see what God does for anyone who will launch out into the deep and go where he sends them. It’s not complicated but simple, faithful obedience, pays off – with massive rewards.

He goes where Jesus tells him, and finds so many fish his nets give way! Boat sinking amounts of fish – that require partnership to pull them all ashore! 

We have to be open to go where the fish are rather than blame the currents or hope a freak gust of wind blows them in. Fresh perspectives, innovative procedures, new partnerships – in the blue oceans all around us where we can land the catch Jesus has already spotted and sends us to.

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