In Daring to Live On the Edge, Loren Cunningham states: “A long time ago in the history of the Christian Church an idea took root which has done great harm. It is this: there is a secular world and a sacred world.” In this passage Loren was referring to the impact of this belief on work. However, it’s equally true when we think of ministry.
This belief implies that there are some things that are sacred and therefore more valuable to God, and others are secular or less important to God. Sacred things include spiritual disciplines, faith, grace, theology, evangelism, and of course, missions. Business, politics, economy, science, mass media and the arts fall into the second category of secular pursuits.
This divide extends to ministry, meaning we end up with two areas: missions or development. Teaching people about God or helping the poor. Loving God or loving our neighbor. Secular or sacred. Our desire is to weave the two areas back together. We believe that discipleship is key to moving out of poverty, that meeting physical needs is an act of worship. We do not see them as two separate areas to be addressed, but as two sides of a coin which cannot or should not be separated.
We believe that an integrated approach to ministry is powerful because:
God’s concern is for all areas
When sin entered our world so much was broken—our relationship with God, our relationships with each other, our relationship with creation, and the way we see ourselves. In Col. 1:19-20, God reminds us that Christ came to reconcile all things. Not just our relationship with Him, but everything.
People are whole
To grow, develop and become all that God intends, we need to grow physically, spiritually, emotionally, socially and in wisdom. Focusing on one or two areas and excluding the others leaves us unable to reach our full potential. God didn’t make us just physical beings or just spiritual beings. He made us complete, complex humans. We need to grow and to help others to grow in all areas.
One of the things that we have seen again and again in the past seventeen years is that growth in one area affects other areas. People have shared many testimonies that as they started to step out and serve their community through things like digging a well, their love and knowledge of God increased. Similarly, as children’s nutrition improves, they are able to learn more. Why? In simple terms, God hasn’t divided us into neatly categorized parts that don’t impact each other. We are an interconnected whole, so change and growth in one area impacts the other areas.
Example from our work
At our vocational training center, students from many different ethnicities and cultures live together in community. Opportunities for tension abound. Staff spend time mentoring and mediating. As the students practice grace and forgiveness toward one another, they find themselves growing deeper in their relationship with God.