St. Patrick may be the most recognized name hailing from the Emerald Isle, but he is only one among a long line of believers and missionaries who have left a legacy upon the fabric of Irish culture.
Post-reformation English rule until the 20th century resulted in thick, divisive lines between Protestant and Catholic communities. With the Irish independence of 1922, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (still part of the United Kingdom) became further defined by the religious and cultural history of both Catholicism and Protestantism.
In recent years, this solid religious heritage has been shaken due to the failures of the institutional church, the impact of a boom/bust economy, and the rise of secularism.
While vestiges of religious traditionalism remain in the areas of family, school, community, and sport, whole-hearted Christian faith has been widely lost.
Nevertheless, in God’s providence, the weakening of the institutional church combined with encroaching secularism are driving some people to consider the relevancy of faith. By God’s grace, there are still individuals who are experiencing an intimate relationship with Jesus by faith.
It’s in this context that the Serge teams in Ireland pursue a vision of an island transformed for the glory of God, captivated by God’s grace and overflowing with the joy of knowing Jesus.
By loving God and neighbor, we lay down our lives as catalytic encouragers for the renewal and expansion of the Church in Ireland, inviting all people to become wholehearted followers of Jesus.
Rather than planting churches ourselves, we envision, empower, equip and encourage Irish pastors in their own context whether in church planting or revitalization.
This philosophy of ministry and approach is implemented across the island in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, and in Scotland, through facilitative church planting and our apprenticeship teams and summer internship.
These teams coach and mentor Irish church planters and pastors in a facilitative way through an earned place of influence by building trust that welcomes input and affirms and values relationships with these leaders through the ‘catalytic encouragement’ of their ministry.
In our vision of connecting with 75 such pastors and ministry leaders, each team member establishes facilitative/catalytic encouragement relationships in both their local church and regional contexts.
We’re dependent upon the Holy Spirit to reveal these relational opportunities. We pray to discern which relationships to invest in and for the risk-taking faith required to intentionally pursue leaders. Historically, these relationships have been initiated both by Irish leaders reaching out to our staff and by our staff taking initiative with Irish leaders.
Rather than directly leading a congregation or ministry with the title of ‘director’ or ‘pastor’, the team must prayerfully create their own opportunities to contribute to those in direct leadership. This requires humility, faith, and discernment.
This facilitative model invites a vast sphere of impact, the ability for teammates to serve multiple pastors, and the attribution of fruitful ministry to the church leader–with Serge remaining behind the scenes. The goal is to empower, resource, and enable the Irish leader to succeed in the ministry God has given them with the real hope of church multiplication.
This frees our workers to be substantively immersed in the host culture and thus creates a more decentralized team presence. Community engagement, relationships, and day-to-day activities are often engaged separately from other teammates. Our primary relationships are based in our local churches, our communities, and other personal networks. We have regular team gatherings, field prayer days, and field events. However, these are secondary to the primacy of each member’s ministry.
Being in English-speaking countries, combined with the team’s many existing relationships, provides a context in which teammates are able to enter into the host cultures to a very significant degree.
A posture of humility, learning, risk-taking faith, and loving one’s neighbor opens doors of rich and rewarding friendship and community among the people of Ireland.
Our all-island plus Scotland scope spans the international borders between The Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland (UK), and Scotland (UK), includes urban and rural churches and transcends denominational affiliations. The work is people-focused, prayer-dependent, gospel-centered, and rooted in the value of coming alongside missional, Irish pastors and leaders as facilitative catalytic encouragers.
Serge has teams in Dublin, Cork, and Belfast/Edinburgh with dreams of a team in Galway. We have an Apprenticeship team based in Dublin which serves the entire island and also leads our summer Internship program for Irish and American college students.
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