How ESA Does Holistic Ministry

Think Glocally, Act Faithfully

Holistic Ministry requires the renewing of the church for mission.

Mission is integral to what it means to be the church. Without the outward looking gaze, the larger beyond-itself purpose, the Christ-centered, Spirit-inspired vision for global transformation—in a word, without mission—we fall short of being the New Testament ekklesia. To be missional means to join God’s mission in Christ to transform the world. To be a missional church is to strive in the Spirit to be authentically relational, intellectually and theologically grounded, culturally and socio-economically diverse, and radically committed to both God and neighbor, especially the poor. And you don’t have to leave the country to do it. Take a look at Acts 1:8. The mission moves from local to global. It begins on the local level and extends to the ends of the earth. And how well we “do mission” at home will inform how well we do mission “over there.” Mission must be radically local, and committed to go global. There is no distinction between what we do “over there” and what we’re supposed to do “right here.” No matter where in the world we are, our mission from Jesus is to bear witness to the good news of the kingdom through both word and deed. So it is not global mission or local mission, but “glocal mission.” Glocal mission is bearing witness to the gospel of the kingdom by both word and deed on the local level until it extends globally to the whole world.

ESA works for local congregational renewal through and for mission.

We do this in a variety of ways:

Resources for Discipleship. ESA creates and publishes resources that help churches to nurture and train disciples that live out Jesus’ call to make radical love visible here in the world through a holistic and well-rounded approach to Christian ministry and political engagement. These resources include study guidessmall group guides, articles, publishing booksbook reviewsvideos, and more.

Family Advocates. Holistic ministry recognizes the variety of factors that play on individuals and families in our churches and in the world. Our partnership with the Family Strengthening Network will provide training for Family Advocates, who will be able to come alongside local churches in providing holistic ministry to families and individuals who experience a diverse set of needs – spiritual, emotional, physical, economic, mental, and more.

Through holistic ministry, the Church meets the needs of people and communities. Holistic ministry cannot be done by lone ranger churches or organizations; it cannot be done if there is a competitive spirit in the body of Christ. Holistic ministry requires partnerships and networking, since God’s gifts are distributed to the whole church.

Urban Suburban Partnerships. When we refer to the urban-suburban divide, we mean nothing less than the old ancient line that divides the poor and the rich, the underprivileged and the privileged, the powerless and the powerful, as well as between races and ethnicities. The call to urban-suburban partnership is the call to cross racial and socio-economic divides in order to be God’s radical community in mission together in our communities and world.

Due in part to increasing gentrification of sections of major cities in the last 25 years or so, we don’t have to look far to see the “urbanization of wealth” and the “suburbanization of poverty.” The poor have begun to move into the suburbs, while the rich (the gentry) have returned to the city, a process called gentrification. So an important question to ask is, “What does this beautiful mess that is today’s urban-suburban landscape do to our idea of partnership for the sake of the gospel?”

We have to go beyond geography and beyond what we thought we knew. By “urban,” we mean the spaces where the poor, the oppressed, and the excluded live, whether they do so in the city or in the suburbs. “Urban” is no longer a location, but a social condition that results from enduring the daily grind of population density, poverty, substandard housing, substandard education, violence, crime and drug trafficking. Fear, insecurity, and despair are palpable among the urbanized. And although there is a significant poor white population in America (especially in rural mountain regions), the urban condition correlates demographically with ethnic minorities, particularly African- and Latino-Americans.

“Suburban” is also a social condition and not primarily location. “Suburban” is intentional social segregation from those of different ethnicities and poorer socio-economic status, and one can be “suburban” in the gentrified heart of a city, or in the upscale sprawling developments on the outskirts of town.

Neighborhood or Community Networks. What is God already doing, and through whom, in your community? And how can you partner with them? These are the questions of a networker, a community organizer, someone who is keen to God’s activities and who doesn’t want to waste time and resources trying to start something that has already been started by another (i.e., reinventing the wheel).

ESA seeks to facilitate unity-in-mission between churches and organizations in a neighborhood and community. One church cannot effectively meet the many and varied needs of a community, but what if that church links arms with another church and another church and that organization next door and that non-profit across the street?

International Partnerships. Churches, organizations, and educational institutions across the globe, particularly in the global south, can teach churches in North America a thing or two about holistic ministry, and vice versa. ESA partners with non-Western entities by the sharing of resources–human, financial, intellectual and cultural–not only for mutual enrichment, but also for collaborative action.

Issue-Based Partnerships. Another way that churches, organizations and individuals come together in partnership is by way of rallying around a shared conviction about a given issue.

Whether it is economic justice, immigration, gun violence or human trafficking, ESA brings people and faith communities together for dialogue and action.

Read more about ESA’s Projects and Partners.