Sullivan, our English Settler, is our most effective pre-evangelistic tool, for as we walk him, he brings people to us.
They talk to us about him, ask about the breed, notice our accent, tell us they have a relative in Perth and ask if we’ve met them, then ask, “What are you doing here?”
In Sydney that would be an open door, wouldn’t it?
We’d say, “I’m planting a new church,” or, “I’m starting a new congregation,” or even, “I’m a minister of a church.”
It would be an open door everywhere else we’ve lived, from Southern England and the midlands, to Northern Ireland… but not in Dublin.
Those words mean different things in Ireland.
Grace doesn’t mean, “God’s undeserved favour to us, primarily in Jesus Christ,” and church doesn’t mean, “A gathering of believers in Jesus Christ.”
Tomas, a Dubliner born and bred, and one of our dog-walking contacts, said,“Cam, you’ve got to understand, the Irish have suffered under two oppressors: the English and the Catholic Church.”
To Tomas and to our other neighbours, the words I use to speak about the wonderful message of reconciliation of God to us by the death of Jesus on the cross represent oppression and abuse.
If we say, “we’re planting a new church,” many hear, “we’re starting a new agency of tyranny.”
I also walk Sully in the Silicon Docks, where companies have pet-friendly offices.
Two older men told me much the same as Tomas: “The English tried to crush our culture, and the church tried to crush our spirit.”
We’re working out how to speak about God’s love when the words, ‘Jesus’ and ‘Church’ are associated with abuse, coverup and abduction.
That’s why we’re so thankful for our partnership with Jamberoo Anglican, and we praise God that you are with us as we work to plant a new church in Dublin… and as we try and help people understand why that’s actually a really good thing!.