We can learn a LOT from the Irish culture when it comes to ministry. Within the context of the Irish culture, ministry must be foremost relational. They are relational to the core. Task second, people first. While reading The Cost of Community the other day a word picture came to mind. Sharing the Gospel here is like an iceberg.
On average, 88% of an iceberg is underwater. That's a lot of ice that we never see until we look under the water. To fully understand and respect the enormity of an iceberg, you must look under the water.
Similarly, for an unbeliever to truly understand the Gospel, they must be ENCOURAGED to see the Gospel's influence on us. I believe, in the eyes of an unbeliever, the life we live is 88% of the Gospel we preach. If we never allow people in to see that, we are only having 12% of the potential impact on the people we are called to reach.
In Ireland, life begins and ends with relationships. Ministry here is nothing if not relational. I believe it should be that way in any culture or country. As follower of Christ, every one of us has the opportunity and the responsibility to build relationships with the people in our circles of influence. When we attempt to bypass (or ignore) relationships, we are losing this metaphorical 88% of the Gospel revealed through our own life and redemption. We are only showing them the tip of the iceberg because that's the easiest and prettiest place to be.
Let me put it this way. What kind of gospel are we sharing with the world, if we never allow the world to see Christ's redemption active in our own lives? Are we pretending to have no problems, to be perfect, or even to be sinless? To truly effectively preach the gospel, we must allow them close enough to see our personal victories, close enough to see our pain, and even close enough to see our sin.
Iceberg Evangelism: It takes vulnerability, transparency, and lots of time.
I dare you to try it.