Part 7: Integrative Ministry
Churches need to be balanced and have integrative ministries. Too often churches will emphasize discipleship, or evangelism, or teaching, or social justice, etc., rather than seeing that one area of ministry cannot be done well unless it is balanced with other emphases. The Bible uses scores of metaphors and images to describe the church, and it prescribes many things the church should be doing. There are four broad areas where the church needs to be working. First, the church needs to connect people with God. To do this we need a solid biblical theology that grounds our worship services. We should be grounded in a historical tradition yet open to adaptation. The form of our services should be conducive to the culture and people that are present. Weekly services can be geared simultaneously for both edification and evangelism. Such a service will make worship comprehensible to both believers and unbelievers. People should be invited to respond to Christ during the service and in follow-up meetings.
The second broad front the church needs to work on involves connecting people to one another. The gospel creates a community where the quality of our relationships and love serves as a witness. Nothing shapes Christian character more than deep engagement in Christian community. Sharing life with other believers helps us learn how to behave and it also helps us learn more about God through the knowledge and experience of others. Our churches need to evangelize and aim for conversions, but they also need to assimilate people into a deeper life of teaching, doctrinal instruction, and engagement with the sacraments. Deep relationships are formed through sharing deep experiences, and nothing is more significant than experiencing salvation from sin by the grace of God.
Third, the church needs to connect people to the city. This requires involvement in ministries of justice and mercy. We are to love our neighbors, which does not mean people who are just like us, but anyone we come in contact with who has needs. We must be servants who are willing to perform menial tasks. We must also support compassion projects and fight for social justice. There are immediate needs to relieve, but we also need to help people become self-sufficient rather than dependent. There are also deeper structural reforms to work for in society. These kinds of ministries can be very expensive and require personnel, so every church will have to see what they can do and who they should focus on helping.
The fourth front is connecting people to the culture. Now that Christendom has passed in the West, believers need to learn how to live out their faith in a hostile environment. Our faith provides us with motivation in our work and allows us to see that our work matters to God and his plan for the world. Christians should work with the highest ethics and values, resisting work-place priorities that are legal but unbiblical. The church needs to connect people with other Christians of the same vocation, and then train members in worldview thinking. Christians are to serve the Lord at work, not just when they evangelize explicitly, but in how they envision every aspect of their vocations. They must work to the best of their ability and aim for excellence.