Leading in Holistic Ministry

Complete Guide

By David Kool and Andrew Ryskamp

This guide will help your church develop and sustain holistic ministry. You can access the guide online or download a printable PDF version. Developed by David Kool and Andrew Ryskamp, this is a valuable tool for pastors, elders, deacons, and anyone else looking for guidance on how to lead a holistic ministry.

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What is holistic ministry?

Holistic ministry seeks to proclaim and embody the gospel in every aspect of life. That means that holistic ministry engages the whole person (spiritually, physically, and relationally) with the whole gospel. Worship, discipleship, and fellowship intersect with good life choices, meaningful vocation, a healthy family, and good character. By bringing together word and deed, holistic ministry invites people to experience God’s transforming love more fully.

Why holistic ministry?

The power of the good news is strongest when people experience the full life that God desires for them. This rich existence can be found through connection to Jesus Christ and his disciples. When the Christian community, through both churches and ministries, addresses the whole person, the impact can be dramatic.

The biblical basis for holistic ministry

Israel’s relationship with God in the Old Testament is evaluated based on worship and obedience, and how they treat those in need and practice justice. We hear a consistent emphasis in the New Testament, when God’s mission is entrusted to Jesus’s disciples, on bringing the word and doing deeds. The two great commandments that Jesus identifies are to love God and to love neighbor. Would it not make sense to see that love for neighbor includes our concern for their spiritual, relational, and physical needs? Read more about the biblical support for holistic ministry in section II of this guide.

What “deeds” does holistic ministry include?

Our care for all areas of life that affect a person’s ability to achieve the fullness God intends for all people. This may include marriage and family issues, physical and psychological health, meaningful work, good community within the church and neighborhood, access to adequate food, education, income, and housing. This is not to say that every church or organization has to address all of these issues, but does say that they are Christian concerns and impact all those created in the image of God.

Leading Holistic Ministry:

A Complete Guide

What Does the Lord Desire of You?

Micah 6:8 asks us what the Lord requires of us. This question can be answered in a variety of ways. Who you are, what you are passionate about, what spiritual gifts you have, and what you have experienced might shape the way you answer this question.

  • Looking at Micah 6:1–8
  • Micah 6:8
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Biblical, Theological, and Missiological Grounds for Holistic, Developmental Ministry

As Christians, we hold the Bible as God’s authoritative word that shapes what we do as individuals and as churches. We need to begin with understanding what Scripture says on the issue of holistic ministry. This flows into theology, which is our systematic understanding of God and how God relates to His world. Our theology needs to be made real in the practice of mission, which is taking what we believe to impact this world

  • Biblical Grounds—What God Says
  • Theological Grounds—How We Think About What God Says
  • Missiological Grounds—How We Do What God Says
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Holistic Ministry

We often assume that God expects us to be concerned about connecting people with Jesus as well as meeting their physical needs. However, in Scripture, we do not see one as primary, but instead, we are given a call to engage in both.

  • Holistic Ministry in the Local Congregation
  • Holistic Ministry in Deed Activities
  • The Synergy of Holistic Ministry
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Developmental Ministry

Why do we need to address the transition to developmental ministry? We realize in responding to a need, it is usually easiest to give resources that meet that immediate need. We also realize that it is easier to develop a program such as a food pantry or clothing closet rather than a development activity that tries to address the “why” of the need.

  • Moving from Relief (mercy) to Developmental Ministry (justice)
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Community Ministry

In the past few years, church and ministry leaders have asked how they might better bridge the gap between church and community. It is ironic that, in some cases, the church has operated in such a way that neighbors saw it as a place where they were not welcome. The church had a fortress mentality, where fences and locked doors kept the neighbors out, instead of being a place where neighbors would be welcome and made to feel at home. Commuter churches where members drive in on Sundays make community connections very difficult.

  • Committing to Place
  • Loving Neighbors
  • Listening to Neighbors
  • An Asset-Based Community Development [ABCD] Perspective
  • Empowering Neighbors and Neighborhoods
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Managing the Vision

Tracking the successful implementation of ministry is not free from criticism. For some it just appears too much like a business approach, while for others the discipline of tracking is just another thing they do not have time for. For most churches and small Christian nonprofits, implementation is not done at all, or if it is, it is done poorly. This chapter will outline some basic principles that will greatly increase organizational accountability in achieving the vision and mission of the organization.

  • Why Establish Reporting Around Goals
  • A Model Looking at Impact
  • Accountability for a Well-run System Around Ministry
  • The Key Goals
  • Role of Senior Pastor/Staff
  • Policies for Clear Accountability
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