An Agenda as Great as the Gospel

I am reading for the second time a stimulating book about the Celts, The Celtic Way of Evangelism by George G. Hunter III. What a movement! These fourth century Christiansmodel so many things I long for: The Celts lived in community, practiced contemplative prayer, engaged in power ministry, emphasized social justice, contextualized their faith, loved creation, valued scholarship and did all this in the context of obeying Jesus’ command to “make disciples of all nations.

I have tasted these kingdom values at different times in my spiritual pilgrimage, but never all together.  Never like this. For example, during the Jesus movement of the 70’s we experienced community, or at least “experimented” in community. We contextualized our faith.  Modern day worship bands grow out of this era. We engaged in power ministry and we obeyed the great commission. But social justice, love of creation, contemplative prayer and scholarship were not part of the agenda. The Jesus movement was dynamic but its focus was not comprehensive.

The Vineyard Association of Churches (my Mother ship) provides another example. Many churches in the Vineyard value and practice most of these kingdom values. I am happy to say that you can find some of these traits, to a certain degree in all Vineyard churches.  But where are the churches with an all-embracing kingdom agenda like the Celts?

Imagine what a Celtic-like kingdom agenda might look like today … communities of Jesus’ followers would not just pray and read their Bibles. They would also embrace the classical spiritual disciplines of examen, lectio divina, silence and solitude.  Waiting in stillness before God would be as important as zealous prayer to God. Evangelism would not be a department, but the goal and context of all ministry.  The incarnation would not merely be affirmed as a theological doctrine but as a way of life, a way to live out our faith among the diverse tapestry of cultures and peoples. People would not just go to small groups, they would live in the same houses or in the same neighborhoods.  They would have healing rooms in their churches and healing teams on the streets. They would have recycling centers. Creation would be seen as a reflection of God and a vehicle for worship. They would love God with their minds through a rigorous study of the all the academic disciplines with the goal of shining God’s light on every aspect of culture.  Soup kitchens and co-ops would be available for the poor. But there would be more than these important vehicles of “charity.” There would be educational centers, free legal advice and job placement centers.

This is what we call “biblical holism” in Peace Catalyst International.

This book about the Celts fills me with dissatisfaction with the status quo. The robust, holistic lifestyle of the Celts inspires me to dream new dreams.  I want the whole package – an agenda as great as the gospel!  Anyone else hungry for more?  Anyone else want to join me in this quest? If this stirs your heart, read the book and contact me!