I am a bit of a church history nut. When I come across stories that are not only interesting from a historical perspective, but also relevant to our current situation, my ears perk up! The story of St. Patrick is one of those stories… and then some!
Perhaps you’re not interested in ancient trivia. Don’t bail out yet! Take a look at the fruit that came from this ancient servant’s ministry and then determine why ALL OF US shouldn’t be extremely interested in learning more:
St. Patrick’s Ministry
– Lasted 28 years
– In that time he planted 700 churches
– He ordained 1000 priests
– He spoke out against slavery
– He was inclusive of women serving in ministry
NOTE: Please remember that it was roughly 432 A.D. when he did all this! Was he ahead of his time, or what!
Impressive resume, eh? And do you know how he began his ministry to the “barbarians” in Ireland? He was captured as a child and taken as a slave boy. During his enslavement, three profound changes happened in his life:
1. He connected with God in a new and real way
2. He came to understand the Irish Celtic people
3. He came to love his captors
Years later, at age 22, Patrick escaped and went back to his “homeland” of England. Yet Patrick found himself wanting to be back with the people he so loved. In fact, he received word from his former captors inviting him back. Listen to the words of these unreachable people: “We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us” Can you imagine the influence this lad had on “his enemies”? Apparently the reputation of Christ through his life was so attractive, they wanted him back to live among them!
Ironically, Patrick did not set up camp (or cathedral) in ways similar to the popular church growth principles of the day. His primary mission was not to preach or to “civilize” or Christianize – rather he was specifically called to be among them once again. He was invited by God to live among them as Christ’s witness. What was so different about what Patrick did? While the successful Roman church model was all about…
Presentation Decision Fellowship
Patrick turned things upside down and build a community around…
Fellowship Conversation & Meeting Needs Belief & Commitment
I see a visible expression of that Christ-like love for people at Northbridge Church! Let’s continue to work together as one church, inviting people into the community of faith. Many will be attracted to our community before they fully “get it” – but they will find themselves hungry for a life lived as servants of the Almighty King.
How about you “slaveboy / slavegirl”? Are you ready to walk among them? Peace, strength and joy to you on the journey!
Pastor of Disciplemaking
Note: A great resource using the life of St. Patrick for church-wide evangelism training is Dr. George Hunter’s book, “The Celtic Way of Evangelism.