Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Celtic Way of Evangelism

In his book, The Celtic Way of Evangelism, George Hunter tells the story of (Saint) Patrick and how he evangelized Ireland. Growing up in England, he was captured by Celts and lived in slavery for many years. He finally escaped and went back to England. However, in a dream, he heard a "Macedonian call" to go back to Ireland and share the gospel with these "barbaric tribes."

Patrick's method for evangelism was to form an apostolic or missionary team, who would spend weeks ministering to a local tribe. They would live within this tribe, bless them, and share the gospel in creative ways--song, dance, and the like. This fit with the creative Celts. During his lifetime, 30-40 of Ireland's 150 fiercely independent and pagan tribes became Christian.

You would think that the church in England, which had commissioned Patrick to go to Ireland, would be thrilled at this. However, they were not. They saw the role of a bishop as only having to do with two things: administration and chaplain duties. In other words, caring for faithful Christians. They were offended and angered that Patrick was spending the majority of his time with "pagans," "sinners," and "barbarians."

Sad, isn't it? But is that not the attitude of most churches today? Ministers should be the chaplains of the church, giving a peppy sermon on Sunday and spending the week hanging out with Christians, visiting hospitals, and the like. In other words, pastoral care and an internal focus. It is not that these things are bad, but that they are the overwhelming focus.

What if ministers acoss the nation spent the majority of their time with non-Christians--Wednesday night service at a local school function, Sunday night neighborhood fellowship groups, and the like. Which would reach more people for Christ? For that matter, what if the whole church--which is made up of ministers--did the same thing? We learn a powerful lesson from Patrick on how to reach the world today. We must go out, live incarnationally, and bless others' lives. And we need ministers who will take the lead in doing this.

What do you think most people's expectations for a minister is?