Saint Patrick: The Patron Saint of Church Planting
I think churches should have a Worship Service/party for St. Patrick’s Day every year. In particular, I think American churches should start celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. I am not saying that churches should roll in kegs of green beer or that we should actually worship Patrick or pray to him. I don’t believe in that kind of saints. I believe that Patrick was an ordinary human like any of us who did something extraordinary to transform his carnal, pagan nation to be a nation that loved God, sent missionaries and saved civilization as we know it. I don’t want to steal the story, but if you have no idea what I am talking about when it comes to civilization, I encourage you to pick up How The Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill.
I can say this. Patrick was a man who suffered as a slave to the Irish people, had a powerful conversion experience and after escaping slavery, returned to the Irish people and started a church planting movement that transformed the island forever. In fact, as of a few years ago, Ireland had consistently been the nation that sent more Christian missionaries per citizen than any other nation in the world.
How did he do it? He started what became known as monasteries (not what we think of today), communities of believer’s who lived according to the leadership of Jesus Christ and loved the society around it in such a way that others wanted to be a part of it. Sounds like an awesome church doesn’t it? He started these throughout Ireland and then this model spread throughout Barbarian Europe over the next several centuries, transforming it with the same liberating gospel message that Patrick experienced.
I don’t know anyone who is encouraged by the direction of our country. Then when we hear that 80% of all churches are plateaued or in decline, it is hard to have hope for our future in Spiritual terms. But did you know that in recent years, the rate of churches being planted has become greater than the rate of churches closing? There is a subtle church planting movement sweeping across our country. It likely will not be celebrated or even noticed in the news. It is easier to report on the decline of denominations than to notice networks of new churches emerging.
That is why I think we should celebrate on St. Patrick’s Day. We don’t celebrate a person or even a movement. We celebrate Jesus who said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” We celebrate the one who was truly sent declaring, “I came to seek and to save the lost.” We celebrate the one who was sent to save us, Jesus the one who through Patrick and countless others started churches and ministries where we heard the gospel and like Ireland and Europe 1500 years ago, experienced Jesus’ transforming love and power.
Saint Patrick’s Day fills me with hope for my nation and fuels me to follow Jesus who said to each of us, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
So, what do you say? Let’s celebrate today Jesus, the true church builder and let’s gather together next Saint Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2018 somewhere near West Chester, PA.