Happy St. Patrick's Day!
While best known for the parades, the Guinness, the green, and the pinching, St. Patrick's Day honors a prolific church planter and evangelist.
According to George G. Hunter's, "The Celtic Way of Evangelism" (one of my favorite books), Patrick may have planted as many as 700 churches. Additionally, he is attributed with converting 30-40 of Ireland's 150 tribes.
His method was brilliant. Patrick and his followers would set up an enclosed camp next to a tribal village. As Hunter points out, the enclosure was not deigned to keep the tribe members out, but to create an opportunity to invite them "in".
Intentionally, members of Patrick's team would invite people from within the tribal village into the enclosure to experience a new way of life. The idea was to have the tribal members develop a sense of belonging, which led to believing, which then led to TRUE belonging.
Central to Patrick's evangelism method was intentional knowing and relationship. Patrick believed that "if the pagans come to believe that Christians love and understand them, then they will infer that their great God does too (p.20)." I believe that this approach has the potential to be just as fruitful today!
During this season of Lent, we are, as a church, focusing on The Cross of Christ. The sermons that Geoff and I are preaching are aimed at helping us "to experience the life-changing love of Jesus Christ in our homes, our workplaces, and our communities."
Of course, that is not the full goal of our Lenten focus. We also want these sermons to kindle in us all a desire "to extend the life changing love of Christ in in our homes, our workplaces, and our communities."
How might this extending happen? During Lent, we are moving towards the celebration of the death and resurrection of our Savior. It's a big deal! Many nominal and non-Christians are more inclined to attend churches services on special Holy Days (there is a reason the name "Chreaster" exists - see the GREAT article in the link). This presents an opportunity to invite people "in" to our community.
As we move towards our Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday services, please be thinking and praying intentionally about those to who you might extend (with words) an invitation to experience our community.
We all love our church almost as much as I love Jesus. Let's intentionally work together to extend others and opportunity to experience the life-changing love that is available through a relationship with Jesus and His church.
If you are not familiar with Christianity, or have had an off-and-on again relationship with the church (perhaps for good reason), I'd like to extend you an invitation to experience the life-changing love of Jesus Christ that is available through His gospel and His church. Come and belong, and let's see where that goes.
I am thankful for the evangelism guidance that Patrick provides.
I am thankful of the green, the parades, and the Guinness, too.