CrossPoint Dublin, Ireland
Continuing the 2005 series of interviews with pastors from various Calvary Chapel ministries around Europe, Calvary News Network has put 10 questions to Pastor Kevin Fitzgerald of CrossPoint Dublin, Ireland. In this interview he shares about what it's like to minister to the Irish, how his ministry has been received by the already existent churches in Dublin, and about what not to do when coming to Ireland as a foreign missionary.
What is God doing in, through, and around CrossPoint Dublin these days?
Well, there are lots of different things going on. Even though we have been going for 2 years now, I still believe we are in the "foundational" stage; I believe the Lord is still laying a solid foundation for our church through the systematic teaching of His Word. One of the most important things I sense this is bringing about in our church is "like-mindedness."
Also, we are still establishing a presence in the community; looking for opportunities to make ourselves visible, reach out, serve, and let people know that we're here and available - should they need to contact us. Another important thing that I believe the Lord is doing in our church is breaking down cultural barriers. Over the past ten years or so, Dublin has become quite a cosmopolitan city, filled with all different kinds of nationalities. Someone once said that a church should reflect the community wherein it is located. Our congregation is - and always has been - about 1/3 Irish people. In addition, we have Nigerian, French, English, South African, Peruvian, Lithuanian, Argentinean, Brazilian, German, and American people in our congregation. But, I believe this accurately reflects the make-up of Dublin. Personally, I find it beautiful. And I sense that the Lord is using it to teach us all quite vividly that we are indeed "citizens of heaven," and - in the Body of Christ - should not be too hung-up on what our particular "earthly" cultural background might be.
33 year old Pastor Kevin Fitzgerald leans on the unquestionable calling of God on his life to be in Ireland.
What are some of the church needs that CrossPoint Dublin is lifting up to God in prayer right now?
The desire for our own building... The upcoming year... Leadership from within the church... Clear vision for missions... Continuing favor in the community...
What's the biggest motivating factor for you right now in the ministry?
God's unquestionable call upon my life, and a passion to see others rooted and grounded in the Word of God.
What is the spiritual situation like in Dublin and in Ireland, as you see it?
Well, Ireland - like most European countries - could truly be described as "post-Christian." And, while there are certainly a decent number of churches in Dublin, there is an absolute dearth of good, solid, consistent Bible teaching. So, the way I always describe it is as a place where you find a lot of "malnourished sheep," tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine. There are a lot of people here who truly love the Lord, but tend to base their Christian walk on feelings or experience rather than the revealed truth in God's Word.
Since arriving, I have not sensed that the Lord would have me make my emphasis EVANGELISING THE LOST, but rather EQUIPPING THE SAINTS for the work of the ministry. I would also say this: Because of the various scandals that have come out in recent years surrounding the Catholic Church, there are a lot of people here disillusioned with their "traditional" Irish-Catholic upbringing. Because of this, more movements than ever seem to be on the rise: Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Islam, and Scientology (to name a few).
CrossPoint Dublin's current facilities. Situated on the grounds of a local Sports Complex, the building holds a main hall (seating up to 100 people), a kitchen, and several extra rooms for Sunday School, youth ministry etc.
How has your ministry been received by other churches and Christians in Dublin?
Fine, for the most part. I think initially there was the expected "sheep-stealing" paranoia that swept through some of the churches here; the fear that I would come in and somehow seek to draw people away from where they were currently involved and start coming to CrossPoint. I think there was also a fair degree of skepticism, given the fact that - apparently - many Americans have come to Ireland with grandiose plans for planting a church, only to give up and go home 2 years later, and leaving a lot of hurt disillusioned people in their wake. I have lived here for almost 3 years now, and I still have people ask me, "Are you really going to stay?" But, through being consistent, staying the course, and simply letting the Lord build the church, a lot of these initial apprehensions have been put at bay. So, relations with the other church leaders are fine.
Do you work together with other Calvary Chapels in your region or in Europe in any way?
Yes, I do. I maintain regular contact with all of the other CC pastors here in Ireland, and we swap pulpits from time to time in order to cover for one another. I also make sure that I let all of them know whenever we are hosting special events (such as a Marriage Seminar, etc.) so that if they want to bring anyone from their churches, they can. Additionally, I try to increase the number of pastors I know personally throughout Europe by attending various conferences from time to time, and inviting the ones I do know to come over for visits and teach our congregation.
What book of the Bible are you teaching through at the moment, and what messages has God seemed to especially
personalize for you as a congregation in that process?
In our midweek study, we have just finished Genesis, and have moved on to Exodus... On Sunday mornings, we are studying through 1 Corinthians... I'd say that several of the issues that Paul deals with in 1 Corinthians have been particularly pertinent to our growing church. Issues like "carnal divisions," being "tolerant" towards sin, "spiritual gifts," and "responsibility in liberty."
How did God call you to be a pastor?
I was hired on staff at a Calvary Chapel in the United States back in 1996 as a worship pastor and youth pastor [for CC Stone Mountain in Atlanta, Georgia]. But, even at that time, I went into ministry with the sense that God was eventually going to lead me out to plant a church. I remained on staff for about 6 years there, during which time I was blessed to gain practical ministry experience in the areas of worship, youth, counseling, teaching, missions, administration, you name it! Through my involvement in missions, the Lord awakened within my heart the possibility that perhaps He wanted me to plant a church in a foreign country. By 2002, the Lord had made it abundantly clear that He was indeed leading me to Ireland to plant a Calvary Chapel style church in Dublin.
Have you ever had moments when you thought about giving up the ministry? If so, why and what got you
Never. Don´t misunderstand; there have certainly been times when it has been extremely tough and downright discouraging. But the Lord had made it so abundantly clear to me that this was the direction in which He was leading me, and - since bringing me here - has continued to demonstrate that His hand indeed is upon the work here, that I have never questioned whether I should go back to the States, or whether or not I truly heard from the Lord. And that has proven invaluable. I am grateful for how strong the sense of call was upon my life, and how clear the Lord's leading was, so that when times do get tough, I can always come back to that fact and stop and think, and say: "Now, wait a minute... I KNOW that God called me..." Sometimes the ministry can beat you up. But if you have a sense of call, and you can clearly see the Lord's leading, it can get you through even the toughest, loneliest times.
If anyone reading this is praying about going to Ireland as a missionary, what preparatory advice would you give
to him or her?
Leave your plans behind and come ready to learn. Take the time to be around the Irish people and do nothing more than listen and observe. As James wrote in his epistle, be "swift to hear, slow to speak." Become a student of the culture, and be willing to shed your own. There are a lot of people who come to Ireland thinking they know all about Ireland and its people, and they make a lot of false assumptions. I can honestly say that Ireland is a different place than any other country I've been to in the world, and it is not an easy place to figure out. It is a land of contradictions, allegiances, mental and emotional instability, and spiritual confusion. For lack of a better phrase, it is "a tough nut to crack," "hard soil to plough." So, if you come, come ready to learn, and take it slow.
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To get more information about the ministry of CrossPoint Dublin, you can contact Pastor Kevin Fitzgerald directly by emailing him at: email@example.com. There is not yet an official website for this ministry.