Monday, March 17, 2008

Evangelism St. Patrick's Way

St. Patrick is remembered for being the Apostle to Ireland. There is today perhaps more study of missiology than at any time in the 1500+ years since his translation, yet there is no one alive possessing his stature or effectiveness. Richard Barrett's blog provides some answers as to why that may be. He begins by quoting Alden Swan, who in turn quotes Aaron Wolf, before I quote him. (Is that enough nested quotations?):

"Here’s what I can’t figure out: How in the world did Saint Patrick evangelize all of those Druid priests and clan chieftains without a mission statement? After all, history and tradition tell us that he walked around preaching and performed an occasional miracle. But how did he know what his mission was?" - Aaron D. Wolf, The Mission of Souls: When Experts Attack.

Alden Swan: […] Mr. Wolf raises some interesting questions and challenges to modern Evangelical concepts of evangelization and mission, contrasting the wisdom of being “purpose driven” to the pre-marketing (pre-modern) habit of simply proclaiming the Gospel.

Wow. What a concept.

Richard: This gets me thinking about something which has occurred to me before — I have to believe that liturgy is one of our better and more underappreciated evangelism tools. I guarantee you that St. Patrick wasn’t just walking around preaching and “performing occasional miracles” — he would also have been celebrating the Mass, with the Eucharist as his “mission statement.”

Indeed, one of the best-known episodes in his life involved lighting a Paschal fire in front of Druid priests, which led (after a showdown) to his being free to evangelize the isle of Eire.

Worship is evangelism, and attempting to separate the two, whether inside or outside the Orthodox Church, will lead nowhere.

(Hat Tip: Richard)

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