History of Ireland
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 from as early as the 5th century who has left a legacy upon the fabric of Irish culture. Post-reformation English rule until the 20th century resulted in the establishment of thick, divisive lines between Protestant and Catholic communities. With the advent of Irish independence (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 strong 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, wholehearted Christian faith has been widely lost. Nevertheless, in God’s providence, the weakening of the institutional church combined with an 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.
Ministry in Ireland
It is into this context that Serge Ireland is pursuing 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.
Our philosophy of ministry is fundamentally facilitative and catalytic. As beloved sent ones, we envision, empower, equip and encourage Irish pastors and leaders in their direct ministry efforts. Rather than planting churches ourselves, we help facilitate the work of these men and women leaders 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 through facilitative church planting and apprenticeship teams as well as a summer internship.
Serge Ireland has Facilitative Church Planting (FCP) teams in Cork, Dublin and Belfast with dreams of a team in Galway. We have an Ireland Serge Apprenticeship (SA) team based in Dublin which serves the entire island and also leads our summer Internship program for Irish and American college students.
Facilitative Church Planting in Ireland
Serge Ireland has Facilitative Church Planting (FCP) teams in Belfast, Dublin and Cork. These teams are in relationships with Irish church planters and pastors who lead in church planting and revitalization. The work of coaching and mentoring Irish men and women leaders in a facilitative way is an earned place of influence through building trust in a relationship that welcomes the input of the Serge FCP staff. It is a model that affirms and values relationships with these leaders through the ‘catalytic encouragement’ of their ministry.
In Serge Ireland’s 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 Serge Ireland and by Serge Ireland staff taking initiative with Irish leaders.
Rather than directly leading a congregation or ministry with a title of ‘director’ or ‘pastor’, Serge Ireland workers must prayerfully create their own opportunities to contribute to those in direct leadership. This requires humility, faith and discernment. The FCP model invites a very wide 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 of facilitative church planting 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.
Serge Ireland’s model 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. Each of 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 Serge Ireland’s many existing relationships provides a context in which teammates are able at a very significant degree to enter into the host cultures. 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.
FCP is marked by a passion for church planting and revitalization. Our all-island scope spans the international border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (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.