In 2000, George Hunter wrote The Celtic Way of Evangelism: How Christianity Can Reach the West…Again. This epic book on evangelism is known for its Celtic Model that is contrasted with the all familiar Roman Model. In brief, the Roman Model of Evangelism entails three steps: Presentation, Decision and Fellowship. The Celtic Model of Evangelism is as follows: Fellowship, Ministry and Conversations, Belief, Invitation to Commitment. Regarding new converts to the faith, Hunter reflects upon John Finney’s research, which states “belonging comes before believing” (Hunter, 2000, p. 54). “Evangelism is now about helping people to belong so that they can believe” (Hunter, p. 55).
Notice the vast difference from the “Roman” model expressed in this evangelism methodology. The first goal of the Celtic Christians was to establish a “common-union” with others. This meant bringing the “barbarians” or pagans into the community of faith. Next, in the context of this fellowship, conversations would evolve. These conversations were dialogical in nature. The not-yet believing individual witnessed how believers would pray and worship. They would be exposed to the love within the Christian community and the vivacious, life-giving flow of ministry to and with one another. He or she would experience “God showing up” through actual miracles. In God’s time, they were ready to wholeheartedly commit to Jesus Christ.
An emphasis on Colossians 4:2-6 is at hand. These verses teach that evangelism and prayer are intertwined. The Apostle Paul is encouraging the church in Colossae to pray. “Don’t forget to pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to preach about his secret plan—that Christ is also for you Gentiles” (Colossians 4:3, New Living Testament). I see a connection between the mission of St. Patrick and Paul in this plea for prayer. A Christ-follower’s witness depends on prayer, the Holy Spirit and becoming an available vessel for the Lord to use. Jesus modeled prayerful dependence upon the Father during His earthly ministry.
Reaching to the past, author George Hunter shows how people might come to know Jesus Christ. He encourages the reader to shed the Roman Model of Evangelism and embrace the methodology of St. Patrick. He encourages Christ-followers to let honest seekers come, see and experience the community of faith with no qualifiers. History proclaims that this manner of evangelism changed the world. It can happen again.