Our Catalytic Local Leaders Roundtable met last week. One of our speakers, Fran Patt, with the U. S. Center for World Mission, talked about trends in the church and evangelism. He made a very interesting contrast between two models of evangelism. One, the Roman Model, typifies much of how we have done evangelism.
- Present the message.
- Invite the listener to decide to receive Christ.
- If they decide positively, welcome them into the church and fellowship.
In contrast to that, the Celtic Model, speaks to our body mode in our own evangelism model.
- First bring them into the fellowship of your community of faith.
- Within the fellowship, you engage in ministry, conversation, prayer and worship.
- In time, as they discover they now believe, you invite them to commit.
Fran called for a counter cultural Christianity, where we help people “belong so that they can believe”. He made the following points:
- Most non-believing young people come from broken families.
- Some come from three generations of divorce.
- Most have never had any significant spiritual nurture and many cannot remember ever being to a church.
- In these young people there is a persistent aching void where belonging to a family should be.
- For these young people, their network of friendships take the place of family.
- For people like this, coming to faith requires time and relationship, and belonging comes before believing.
(Fran referenced the book by George G. Hunter, III, The Celtic Way of Evangelism: How Christianity Can Reach the West…Again.)
Hearing Fran’s comments brought back to mind something that Daniel Curran, Associate East Bay Director/San Francisco Metro, sent me some time ago about their “Brownie Sundae Parties”. He said, “Because most of our community college students have little to no “college life”, these parties fill a big need for socializing with other college students of similar heart. It’s a chance for students who can’t connect on campus (because of their schedules), …to hang out with one another in a relaxed home atmosphere…Often they bring surprise guests (believers and unbelievers) and sometimes college pastors, parents, and little brothers or sisters tag along.” Daniel and Margee are building community and a place where students can belong. (You can read more about Brownie Sundae Parties here.)
One more resource for your consideration is “Using Parties and Socials to Connect with Lost Students“. Why not have a Christmas party and invite some International Students or some non-Christian friends. Or why not gather a group of believers and non-believers and go see “The Nativity Story” or “We are Marshall” and go to Starbucks afterward to talk about it.