Love God, Love People
Holistic ministry is the practice of God’s people based on the full implications of the Gospel: that the good news of Jesus Christ is salvation for the whole person—body, mind, spirit, and social relationships—and for the whole of existence—creation, nations, and sociopolitical structures.
Holistic ministry proclaims the Gospel for all by both word and deed with a special focus on the materially or spiritually poor.
“So how do we do holistic ministry?”
Evangelism. Evangelism is the articulation of the good news of Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God to those who do not yet have a saving relationship with God. Evangelism is inviting folks to share in the blessings of redeemed life and community. Biblical evangelism pays attention to both what we proclaim (what is the Gospel?) and how we proclaim it (how do we preach the Gospel to this generation in this culture?). There are solid biblical reasons for doing evangelism, including: to demonstrate God’s love for the world (Jn. 3:16) and the uniqueness of Jesus Christ—God who came in the flesh (Heb. 1:1-3) — as the only way to salvation—Jesus Christ (Jn. 14:6, Acts 4:12); out of obedience (Matt. 28:18-20) and love for neighbor (Matt. 22:39); because we are lost without Christ (Eph. 2:12, I Thess. 1:9, Col. 1:13) and rely on Christ for our eschatological Hope (Rev. 11:15)
Social Concern. A second activity that defines the nature of God’s holistic mission is social concern, compassion and justice ministries. Social concern is the demonstration of the good news of Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God, showing compassion and justice to the poor, oppressed and marginalized in the world, and thus validating through our lives and deeds the good news we preach. Social concern must be demonstrated, not simply felt. Social concern is particularly focused on the underprivileged and underserved, and it is a validation of the gospel proclamation of good news for all the world. There are three types of social concern: relief for the poor; development, or empowering the poor; and working for structural change (prophetic politics).
Reconciliation. A third activity that defines the nature of God’s holistic mission is reconciliation ministries. The Bible calls us to the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18-20), which can be defined as “. . . the hard work of overcoming distrust, misunderstanding, bitterness and even hatred between peoples . . . .” in the power of the gospel. We see the need for reconciliation most urgently between women and men, between races and cultures, between the rich and the poor, and in broken family relationships. Reconciliation requires:
- willingness on the part of both parties
- the art of dialogue
- genuine repentance on the part of the oppressor
- genuine forgiveness on the part of the oppressed
The ministry of reconciliation deepens the meaning and practice of justice in that it envisions a world of redeemed relationships between oppressed and oppressor, abused and abuser, underprivileged and privileged.