More Information is Not the Answer

Back in 1998, I had an opportunity to hear George Hunter III speak. That day he further unpacked the story I posted on Monday. Hunter had just written a book called, The Celtic Way of Evangelism: How Christianity Can Reach the West…Again. That book is the most formative work on ministry I’ve ever read.

 Hunter recapped the strategy of the church in Patrick’s day. Simply stated the Roman way of evangelism was as follows: 

  • Provide people with information so they may believe
  • Offer them an opportunity to respond and become a Christian
  • If they respond correctly, they are welcomed into the community of faith. 
 
 Does that sound familiar? If you grew up in church you saw, experienced, or maybe were trained in this way. You had to believe the Roman Wayright stuff before you really became a Christian and then if you talked like us – looked like us – acted like us – you could belong. This strategy does not work. Patrick used a much more relational way. He and his group would find a village and ask for permission to set up their camp on the outskirts. They would then build relationships inviting the Celts to know them, eat with them, and participate in each other’s lives. Through the relationship they shared their faith in Jesus and helped those who where receptive to understand intellectually what was going on in their hearts. He reversed the Roman way to: Belong > Become > Believe.
 

Let’s face it, we are inundated with information today. And while I don’t discount the individuals who are stimulated by spirited debate I do not think the believe – become – belong model will make much of a cultural impact for the Kingdom.  Patrick’s understanding of context and sensitivity to culture are lessons Christians in the 21 Century need to embrace.

 If you are a person of faith I would suggest you do three things:
  1. Make some new friends. In your day to day activity, pay attention to wherever the spark of friendship flashes and fan it.
  2. Invite them into your home and into your life. Yes, literally eat with them. Do as Patrick did. Invite them to participate with you in the adventure of life. 
  3. Listen to them. That means stop trying to download the right information on them and listen to what they say, in their words and beneath their words. 

We will see impact being made, both on the small and large scale, when we stop assuming we have all the answers before we listen to the questions being asked.

Darrel Harvey

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