The Emergent Church outreach of today uses movies, theater, and literature to communicate and converse with Postmoderns, but centuries ago, Irish Christians pioneered the use of the arts and storytelling to reach the pre-Christians of Europe. In his book, The Celtic Way of Evangelism, George Hunter explains the Celt’s “culture-friendly” way of evangelizing.
“The gulf between church people and unchurched people is vast,” says Hunter, . . . “but if the unchurched know and feel we understand them, by the tens of millions they will risk opening their hearts to the God who understands them.” That key to evangelism, practiced by St. Patrick in the fifth century, is the Celtic way of reaching pre-Christian or postmodern western culture.
Unlike the Roman way of evangelism which initially engaged people as sinners, the Celts tried to see the goodness in people, to perceive God’s view of their potential. This way of initiating a conversation with people is quite different from the traditionally- taught practices of twentieth-century evangelism, sometimes making it difficult for modern evangelicals to embrace the Celtic way.
Secular people, called pagans by the Celts, want to know what Christians believe, and if we live by it, but more importantly, they want to know–does it make a difference in our lives? Hunter believes that only as we live in community with unbelievers will they discover that they matter to the God of our Christianity. The Celtic way of evangelism is, at its core, helping people belong so that they can believe.