M.T. Cooper, in this article, states, ‘…there are three overarching points that can be made about Celtic mission: it was evangelical, contextual and social’.
Today’s Church can definitely use the example of the Celtic Church. In fact, we see some of the most successful ‘life-giving’ churches in modern society, displaying these very attributes in their life.
By keeping the message of faith and grace central to the gospel message, relaying that message in a way that is relatable and accessible to the culture around, and being socially active, fighting for social justice and caring for the poor and marginalised, is vital to the success and growth of the modern church.
Evangelical – By ensuring that the church refrains from judging society and individuals, and working hard on loving without motive, as Jesus commands us to do, we can show a type of love that is not known in the world and that has definitely not been associated with the church in the past. We have to show that salvation is a matter of Faith and receiving God’s love, and the church has to be the embodiment of that here on Earth, bringing God’s Kingdom to earth.
Contextual – The Celtic Church did an amazing job of contextualising the gospel for their society. They introduced symbolism from their Pagan background that was relatable and accessible to their pagan audience, making it much easier to transition their faith to Christianity, as well as communicating their message more effectively. Today, we can often time reject common culture as not ‘biblical’ and refuse to deliver our gospel message in a way that our culture can digest. We need to find new and culturally relevant ways of delivering our message, as well as ‘talking human’ and using language that they can understand.
Social – The Celtic Church planted monasteries right in the centre of the community. They provided services to the community and acted on behalf of the poorest in society. They provided food and health care, as well as Spiritual guidance to their local residents. They understood that a persons wellbeing would often influence their spiritual health, and so by taking care of their practical needs, they were more open to receiving healing for their spiritual needs. Today, the Church needs to increase its role in society with regards to social action and justice and serve the practical needs of society before they take the higher moral ground and try to regain mankind’s soul. By seeing to their physical needs, we will inevitably be in a better position with authority to deal with the spiritual needs.