A common trend in evangelical Christianity today is the movement toward holistic ministry. This orientation has a few noticeable characteristics:
- The commitment to the lost and the poor are of equal standing–and may even favor the poor over the lost.
- This theological view includes what we can do for others as “gospel” also, clouding the clarity of the gospel as being what Jesus has done for us.
- It sees holistic social work as valid in and of itself apart from the responsibility of disciple making.
Yes–it is important that we are the face, hands, and presence of Jesus around the world. We must often meet the urgent needs in order to address the greatest need. We cannot ignore the human condition. But what a temptation we face in going with the flow of a trendy mission focus that reduces us to doing good things at the expense of the right thing. Only the church can offer the ultimate solution to mankind’s greatest problem of separation from God.
Available statistics reveal that from 2001 to 2005, giving toward relief and development increased by 73.4%, while for evangelism and discipleship is was only 2.7%, (Christopher R. Little, Discovering the Mission of God, p.492). Numbers speak. I also have personally seen this well-intended trend all across the nation, expressed through some of our most respected churches. In our pursuit of being relevant and “current”, we may have strayed from the one thing Jesus has told us to do in His absence — to “go and make disciples of all nations.”