Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Celtic Christianity

Saint Patrick's Day is every March. But ask most folks about him, and you'll find that people connect him with Ireland, the shamrock, and the color green - but that's about it.

Awhile back I read a book that caused me to really appreciate Saint Patrick and his contribution to faith-sharing. Hundreds of years ago, a large percentage of Ireland became Christ-followers during the lifetime and ministry of Saint Patrick. I believe that a huge part of this can be attributed to his approach to people and faith-sharing with them.

In the book - The Celtic Way of Evangelism - author George Hunter describes how Saint Patrick's approach to faith and community (and specifically the process of sharing Jesus with others) was revolutionary for the time. It marked a changed from the older "Roman" model of evangelism/faith-sharing. The two models (Roman vs. Celtic/Saint Patrick) are:

- Presentation
- Decision
- Enter the fellowship

- Enter the fellowship
- Ministry and Conversations
- Belief, Invitation to Commitment

You'll notice that the processes are basically reversed. One model made "community" (fellowship) the final step of evangelism - following the linear pattern of someone presenting the Gospel, the hearer then making a decision, and finally entering community/fellowship.

Saint Patrick believed that the process should begin with inviting any and all people into community FIRST. He believed and demonstrated that this led to openness and conversations, and in many, many cases finally led to belief and a life lived for Christ.

I really believe that Saint Patrick was on to something ... and onto something biblical. One of my favorite sections of Scripture is Luke 15, which begins by saying that Jesus was hanging out with (ie, community and fellowship) people who were "outside" the Church community. Luke describes how the religious leaders of His day condemned Him for this. But Jesus didn't budge. He loved people. All people. Invited them into community and fellowship for the purpose of loving and serving them and showing them God.

Saint Patrick has been gone from this world a long time, but I believe we could learn alot from Him in the in the 21st century Church.

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