What the heck?! I just finished George Hunter’s The Celtic Way of Evangelism. It’s a short book, and though I rarely do this (yea, right!), I must urge you all to run out and buy a copy today. C’mon, you can do it. It’s only 121 pages. But stuffed into this small book is such profundity that you will find your perspective on church, outreach, strategy, and history refreshed and encouraged.
I wanted to provide you an outline/synopsis of Chapter 4 (one of the best)…
First of all, you’ve got to remember that Patrick and his missionary team were fleshing out their faith walks and mission strategy in the mid 5th century (Patrick died around AD 460). A contemporary of Augustine, Patrick had a much different approach and perspective on the church’s mission. In many ways, I sense that my own philosophy and strategy of ministry have been strangely influenced by Patrick’s.
His Celtic missionary strategy:
1. Evangelized as a team with the goal of raising up a church in a measurable time
A. In contrast to…
1) the Lone Ranger or one-on-one approach
2) Confrontational evangelism approach
3) Public preaching/crusade/revival approach
4) The Not-Doing-Anything approach
B. His Method
1) Relating to people
2) Identifying with them
3) Engaging them in friendship, conversation, ministry, and witness
Patrick’s team approach was significant and unique for his era. It was reminiscent of the apostle Paul’s. A group can pray and think together. "The single entrepreneur is too easily prey to self-doubt and loss of vision," according to John Finney.
2. Patrick and team prepared the people to live with depth, compassion, and power in mission by leading them to pratice…
A. Voluntary periods of solitude
B. Soul friends – peers – for support and challenge
C. Small groups
D. Common life together – work, learning, meals, play (fellowship)
E. Experience in ministry through their small group
3. Imaginative prayer
A. Engaged the feelings and imagination
B. Use of images
5 Recognizing and respecting the process of conversion
A. Roman model vs. Celtic
1) Presentation vs. Fellowship
2) Decision vs. Ministry & Conversations
3) Fellowship vs. Belief, Invititation to commit
B. Belonging before believing*
*I think this point is huge. It’s long been a conviction of mine, and many others have said it. Just Google the term to prove the point. It is directly contrary to how many Christian groups require a people to first adjust to them by saying they believe all the right things before they will ever accept them. However, as the ministry of St. Patrick reveals, people who are allowed to belong first to a group of authentic Christians (we’re not talking about serving in leadership here) are exposed to the love of Christ practically and in the flesh. They cannot help but experience the loving reality of God and soon are converted to belief in Him.
I hope you’ll take the time to read this great book and let it encourage you to become Celtic in your mission approach.