Review: The Celtic Way of Evangelism

What a perfect time to read or re-read George Hunter’s thought provoking and hopefully action-oriented book, The Celtic Way of Evangelism: How Christianity Can Reach the West Again, (2000, Abingdon Press, Nashville, 144pp.)

Here are a few quotes to ponder as we think about St. Patrick, and the Irish, and the need we have as individual Christians and as churches to think outside our boxes.

First of all, from the introduction:

The church, in the Western world, faces populations who are increasingly “secular”-people with no Christian memory, who don’t know what we Christians are talking about. These populations are increasingly “urban”-and out of touch with God’s “natural revelation.” These populations are increasingly “postmodern”; they have graduated from Enlightenment ideology and are more peer driven, feeling driven, and “right-brained” than their forebears. These populations are increasingly “neo-barbarian”, they lack “refinement” or “class,” and their lives are often out of control. These populations are increasingly receptive-exploring worldview options from Astrology to Zen-and are often looking “in all the wrong places” to make sense of their lives and find their soul’s true home.

And a few more gems:

The typical church ignores two populations, year after year: the people who aren’t “refined” enough to feel comfortable with u s, and the people who are too “out of control” for us to feel comfortable with them!

Perhaps five to ten percent of America’s churches are trying culturally relevant “contemporary” worship-with some adaptation to the pre-Christian population’s style, language, aesthetics, and music, but few churches are even considering the kind of identification with people practiced by the Celtic Christian movement and reflected in this ancient Chinese poem:

Go to the people.

Live among them.

Learn from them.

Love them.

Start with what they know.

Build on what they have.

At a time when many churches are re-thinking some “first steps” they made to reach people different than they are, and as we stretch our minds and hearts to be obedient to the one who “emptied himself” that he might reach those “who were like sheep without a shepherd,” let’s not forget the example of St. Patrick, who went who went where he didn’t want to go, to evangelize people he didn’t like, and probably started about 700 churches.

– Bruce Laverman

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