Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Whose turf? Whose terms?

A few years ago a book with the title How the Irish Saved Civilization appeared on the market. The BBC have now given their take on the great Hibernian rescue. How the Celts Saved Britain was broadcast on Monday evening on BBC 4. Presented by Dan Snow, it began to tell the story of Patrick and the conversion of Ireland. According to the evidence Snow had gathered, not only did Patrick bring Christianity to the Emerald Isle, but civilization as well.

For church leaders and preachers - in fact for anyone interested in mission - there was a wealth of interesting material. One of the things that stood out for me was that Patrick brought the gospel to Ireland by meeting the Celtic people on their turf in their terms. He gatecrashed their holy rituals and ceremonies and invaded their sacred spaces. Consequentially, he found himself preaching to some of the real power brokers of the day.

"Their turf, their terms" is a good mission value to practice. If for no other reason than that the people we want to reach are unlikely to visit our turf on our terms, at least initially. A good value to practise, but not one that the church always finds easy to practise.

Part 2 is next Monday at 9 p.m. on BBC4

You can see part one on iPlayer


Werewolf Dude said...

Hence Street Pastors and Nomad.

Then agian we can't help but meet people on their turf, since we have to interact with them on a daily basis

Keith said...

Excellent points James and challenging to everyone who wants to better evangelise.

It might also be worth noting that the language we take for granted because of our christian enculturation can appear alien and strange to those outside of it.

Unless those exposed to it are familiar with the theology behind it saying "Ye must be born again" on billboards no matter how well meaning ... isn't going to clarify things for those open to the gospel ... just confuse them. On the other hand "God says you need to change direction" ...might cause a little reflection.

Best wishes from Dublin, Keith

James said...

Thanks for your comments guys. Spot on, in my opinion.

Good to hear Dublin calling again.