Thoughts on “Wholism”

“Wholism” is a term used by some in Christian ministry to describe the focus on the whole person or the whole community. Some people spell it “Holism”. However, even though “wholism” and “holism” theoretically are the same word, people often use them differently. The usage of “wholism” comes closer to how we wish to use it.

Wholism places itself in opposition to “Dualism”. Dualism tends to see the world in terms of opposing concepts with no real middle. In ministry, dualism shows itself in spiritual ministries versus social ministries. Spiritual ministries might be thought of as evangelism, preaching, discipleship and such. Social ministry might be viewed as feeding, job training, providing shelter and so forth. Wholistic ministry seeks to do both and fill in the gaps between.

Here are a couple of models for wholism:

Wholistic Growth:
This is sometimes looked at as the Luke 2:52 Model. In that verse Jesus was described as growing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. This verse suggests four types of simultaneous growth: MENTAL, PHYSICAL, SPIRITUAL, SOCIAL. Wholistic growth suggests that ministry should seek to cover these four areas.

Wholistic Health:
This comes from the CHE model (Community Health Evangelism/Education) from Lifewind. It is also related to the World Health Organization view on health accept that it includes the spiritual component. Good health is seen in terms of good relationships. The four relationships it covers is: Good relationships with ONESELF, OTHERS, GOD, and the ENVIRONMENT.

Both models are pretty similar even if different ministries might end up in different categories. One model focuses on growth/development. The other focuses on health/relationships. This is a case of not choosing one or the other, but recognizing that both are important. We are created by God to live in harmony (good relationships), but also to continue to grow and develop.

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