Thursday, March 17, 2005

Happy St. Patrick's Day

There is a great prayer (see a copy of it at I pull from the files each St. Patrick's Day to recite as well as to include in the worship service closest to St. Pat's day. St. Patrick lived an incredible life of devotion and service and was used greatly by God to bring the light of Jesus Christ into Ireleand and beyond. I for years thought Patrick was the patron saint of pinching the greenless, but only later learned in my study of history as well as from reading The Celtic Way of Evangelism, by George Hunter III, of the life and influence of this great servant of God and man. What I appreciate most about him was his philosophy of mission. As a Roman Catholic priest, he became unsettled with the Roman cloister-style of monastic ministry which often resulted in closing oneself off from society and the "pagans" outside of the church walls, lest they bring the world into the church. Patrick saw things differently and realized that the best way of bringing Jesus Christ to the people of Ireland was to open the church to them in every way, allowing the people to come in and experience the love of Christ and true hospitality. As Hunter points out, the Roman model amounted to presenting the Christian message, inviting people to respond and then including them in the life of the Church. This method worked well in Europe where there was already a familiarity with the Gospel and Christianity, but it was not working in Ireland, which had no familiarity with the church and her story. Hunter shows how Patrick's methods led to a Celtic model of 1.) Establishing community and fellowship with people, 2.) engaging them in conversation and inlcluding them in prayer, ministry and worship and 3.) as they believe, inviting them to commit to Christ and the ministry of the church in the world. As a church planter and an observer of the culture in which I live, I see that Christians and churches of today will do well to see that our day is much like St. Patrick's and employ his methods. By the way, I just read a story that reminds me of the Roman model and its ineffetiveness for our pre-Christian world of today. Check it out and see what you think about ministry to Muslims. See it at


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