Commentary by Prof. B.: I am sitting next to Asbury Seminary’s Charles Hunter III at the annual meeting of The Great Commission Research Network (Asbury Theological Seminary, Oct. 19, 2017). Dr. Hunter is author of the popular book The Celtic Way of Evangelism: How Christianity Can Reach the West Again and professor of church growth and multiplication at Asbury. We were discussing how buildings become money-pits for most churches because churches overbuild.
In response Dr. Hunter replied:
People don’t realize that a secret to Saint Patrick’s success evangelizing the Celts was his use of multiple service times in small chapels. They didn’t build big buildings that could hold everyone. This is because timber in Ireland was usually very short in length.
This resulted in small “chapels” which have three strategic advantages:
- They had multiple small gatherings, and many of them every Sunday. They met almost all day long on Sunday, so everyone could have a worship experience.
- This kept the focus from being on maintaining a large facility.
- This also resulted in a lay-lead movement. You needed a lot of laity involved to have so many services.
Commentary by Prof. B.: Small chapels had the unexpected results of creating more lay opportunities to become involved, more times for attendees to fit church into their schedule as well as kept the focus from becoming the maintenance of a large facility.
#GCRN St. Patrick Celtic Celts Ireland