Sunday, June 10, 2007

Evangelism vs. Holistic ministry. What do you think?

OM (Operation Mobilization)--the organization I am part of--has been changing in the last 10 or 20 years from from a mostly-evangelistic/church-planting ministry to--to use the word of choice--more "holistic" ministry; that is, meeting the needs of the 'whole person.'

There is no doubt in my mind that we must meet the needs of the whole person. Christ preached, but he was also quick to feed, listen, heal, and grieve with others.

Some believe that when you go 'holistic', you enter dangerous waters. For example, you may choose to add non-Christians (eg, an expert well-digger) to your team or board (eg, to your well-digging ministry). What are the implications?

It seems to me that good-works ministry is becoming more and more popular. That is certainly not a bad thing; it may be part of God's great plan. Also, while good works do not save us, we were actually made for good works: "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." - Ephesians 2:10

But as we move forward in doing good works--and may we not be so arrogant or ignorant as to think that we are the first to be helping others holistically--are we leaving other foundational things behind? Are we using phrases like "bringing people to Jesus" instead talking about repentance? Do we believe the nice parts of the Bible but disbelieve the not-so-nice parts (eg, God's wrath)? Do we want people to 'add' Jesus to their lives instead of teaching that we must die to self?

Is holistic ministry that lacks the preaching of the gospel holistic? Is there a place for ministry that is non-evangelistic? If so, is there a place for purely-evangelistic ministry?

There are no easy answers, and I think we can learn from each other here. Let's look for the balance.

I am interested in your feedback; please leave a comment. Thanks.
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