When Jesus walked this earth, He was concerned about the whole person. He obviously cared about the physical side of man as well as the spiritual, because He devoted much of His time to healing the sick. Following His example, as Christians we must also be concerned for the well-being of the whole man.
Christ’s last command was recorded in Matthew 28:19-20: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.”
Like all believers, Christian community developers must be involved in helping to fulfill this Great Commission. Spiritual multiplication should be part of transforming a neighborhood. However, this is not all that Christ commanded us. Whenever He sent out His disciples, He charged them to both preach the good news of the gospel and heal the sick. (Matthew 10:8) Christ’s concern was always with the wholeness of the mind, body and spirit of everyone He met.
Mission’s Mission – Integrated Ministry
There will never be enough fully trained professionals to meet the physical needs of the estimated 3 billion people in third-world countries. However, Christian doctors and nurses can multiply themselves by training thousands of local people to handle simple medical problems and to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Wholistic mission is the task of bringing the whole of life under the lordship of Jesus Christ. It begins with the confession that Jesus is Lord of all and attempts to live out that lordship in the whole of life. This impacts all elements of life, mind, soul, body and heart. The mission of the church is, therefore, comprehensive in scope. This wholism impacts not only the goals of mission but it’s means, the way we go about achieving fulfillment. Trained local Christians, working through the church, can be vital catalysts for neighborhoods being transformed.
Traditionally, missions have been committed to caring for people’s physical and spiritual needs. However, in day-to-day practice, a missionary or neighborhood worker is frequently faced with an incredible caseload. For for example, many medical missionaries, are faced with a conflict of interest between urgent physical concerns and the spiritual needs of the patients. In this case it is usually the medical needs which take priority to the of the spiritual.
In contrast to this, the evangelical church has historically concentrated on the spiritual aspect of man, often to the exclusion of the other areas. Conversely, main-line churches have traditionally concentrated on the physical/social aspects of man, to the exclusion of the spiritual. Neither by action or precept did Jesus sanction this dichotomy. Christian ministry must never focus on one area to the neglect of the other.
Churches that seek to eliminate this dichotomy all too frequently develop two parallel ministries. One track ministers to the spiritual needs of an individual and the other to the physical/social aspect. They think of this as a balanced ministry. Two track ministries are a step towards eliminating the dichotomy, but it is not enough; for not only the goal but the means must be wholistic.
An integrated ministry is needed in which the same person ministers to all aspects of those in need. This approach views man as a whole being and deals with the need the person expresses, whether it is physical, emotional, social, or spiritual. One aspect is addressed; at other times, another issue may be dealt with.