Holistic is a term that gets used a lot in international work. Unfortunately, its meaning may have been lost.
It’s such an important part of what I do and believe in.
Dictionary.com defines holistic as:
Characterized by comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole.
How this applies to ministry is simple. When working in holistic ministry it’s important to understand that humans cannot be separated into separate beings. Most common in the church world, we focus on the spiritual and ignore the physical. Another common problem is focusing on the physical while leaving the spiritual up to whatever feels right. In America, it’s not uncommon to focus almost exclusively on the emotional.
The problem is, you can’t separate humans into separate beings. We aren’t one being at a time, we are all human all the time. This is why holistic ministry is absolutely essential.
You can’t minister to one piece of a human without ministering to the entire human. How could ministry involve every piece of human at the same time? The only ‘system’ that reaches the whole human is relationship. The trick is, relationship is not a system at all, it’s more than that.
Here’s an interesting post on the differences between “wholistic” and “holistic”.