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When people think about church planting in the Republic of Ireland - they imagine similarities with their neighbouring nations.
But that is not the case - church planting in Ireland is not what you would expect...
Take Kinsale for example: a beautiful tourist town on the coast of County Cork. It is very multicultural, and a great spot for enjoying gourmet food, sailing, fishing and fantastic beaches. The Baptist Church in Kinsale was constituted in 2015 as part of the Association of Baptist Churches in Ireland, and planted in partnership with Baptist Missions Ireland, and sister Churches in Cork/Kerry.
Serving God in Ireland
For 21 years, myself (Craig) and Heather have served as Baptist Missions missionaries in Ireland and have been funded in this way. We were involved in two other Church planting contexts in Dublin prior to moving to Kinsale in 2008. Our children are now grown up (Rob 25, Hannah 23, Nathan 21, Matthew 19), and God has given us clarity that we are to persevere in the work here.
This past autumn I was called to be the first Pastor of the Church in Kinsale by the church members. In the past God always seemed to move us on. Now his guidance seems to be to stay and persevere in Kinsale.
What is the Church in Kinsale like at this time?
We have a small but great group of members committed to the work here and with a heart for the people of Kinsale. We long to keep reaching out and we are realistic about the nature of the work here.
As one member said… “Kinsale may always be a small mission context… but it is a mission field that is worth it!”
We are encouraged in the past year or two that like in many places in Ireland, gospel conversations increase as people get to know you over the long haul.
The Nature of the Work in Kinsale
If we are committed to the work in Kinsale we need to realistic. We are not going to see the Church grow through transfer growth from other Churches. This was never the plan in Church planting, but Geographically Kinsale is definitely not that kind of place.
We also realise that the people we are reaching don’t have a background in evangelical Christianity. They don’t know their Bible stories because they weren’t taught them in the past. Those who come to visit our Church are always tourists from the UK or USA or elsewhere. They know what a Baptist Church is, but the Irish don’t.
We realise that Irish society has changed but it’s still the same. It is more secular but it is not post-Evangelical Christian. Evangelical Christianity has never taken hold in the Republic of Ireland. There is still a historic resistance to anything foreign, and so our outreach must be relational and long term.
At the round table in November, I spoke about how the work in Normanton in Derby and even Bosnia resonates with us. Even though these are very different contexts to Kinsale… yet there are similarities in terms of outreach and what is required. We are encouraged to learn from these ministries.
The Challenge going forward in Kinsale
As we move to supporting a Pastor can we ask you to pray with us?
We need to transition to a new way of supporting the Church. Previously Baptist Missions were fully supporting us, but incrementally this giving is now beginning to decrease, and we need to broaden the support base.
Would you be interested in knowing more and standing with us?
We long to develop our core group with team members here and to begin having summer teams again. Is there a possibility for your church to send over a short term intern, who would be a perfect fit?
We look to God for the future. Thank you for your prayers.
Craig and Heather
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