Cel·tic Min·is·try – /keltik minəstrē/ – Noun: A welcoming spirit of radical hospitality that recognizes our interconnectedness, and sets no barriers to God’s table.
Celtic ministry reflects a Celtic mindset: everyone on God’s good creation is interconnected. So, a Celtic ministry will welcome everyone, no matter how long it might have been since they’ve attended, no matter how dazed or confused they might be, and no matter how ill-equipped they may be to sit still. Two excellent examples of such ministries have been discussed in George Hunter’s book on the topic: St. Martins, and Canterbury Chapel (aka Serenity United Methodist Church):
St Martins: “… unrestrained uninhibited celebration, more or less “in the tradition of an Irish pub,” … The services are long, by usual standards, and many of their people have short attention spans; six or eight schizophrenic people may be attending a service! Consequently, people are often entering and exiting the service, or getting up and walking over for coffee. The spirit of “unpredictability” hangs in the air!” 1
Canterbury Chapel: Pastor Meri Whitaker attracts standing room only crowds of worshippers. “(she) often engages recovery issues in her sermons, and features what the people need to know about God beyond the “Serenity Prayer.” They close by joining hands and praying together the Lord’s Prayer. The church has a norm against coming to church” dressed up”; casual attire is expected, and Whitaker usually models the “casualization of Christianity” by leading the service wearing jeans.”2
In San Francisco, California, the City of Refuge UCC is a Celtic Ministry of another sort, welcoming everyone without exception. They describe themselves as a ministry of restoration, and are an “intentionally radically inclusive, welcoming all persons regardless of race, color, ancestry, age, gender, affectional orientation, and those who are specially abled.” They add, “We celebrate the Creator’s diversity! We Worship Christ!”
Perhaps your city is lacking a welcoming refuge. If so, your vision may be to fill this chasm. Not every minister is cut out for Celtic ministry, but for those who are, we’re informed that the results can be heartening.
1Hunter, George. The Celtic Way of Evangelism. 112