Holistic and locally present engagement has always been important for the church. However, this present cultural moment demands attentiveness for church leaders like few other seasons in our lifetime. As most pastors discovered, COVID-19 changed the conversation in many ways.

How will we know holistic engagement when we see it?

Though COVID-19 has changed the way we’ve provided ministry through our churches, it has not changed the necessity of the church to incarnate the message and ministry of Jesus Christ. God sends us to identify and come alongside those whom we are called to minister. It is through a relational presence with the various sectors of society that we reflect the incarnation of Jesus.

This means that the church must be integral—meaning that the whole church must minister to the whole of humanity in all its forms including personal, social, economic, ecological, and even political aspects. In this integral church, the Spirit is free to act and is working to bring transformation personally and culturally. In the mid-term, we have an opportunity to address both of these aspects in the way we form disciples.

Who should the church serve?

We should seek to strengthen the various pillars of community life through holistic engagement. Churches can support a wide range of human brokenness by advocating for public policy change and organizational development among the various domains of society, such as schools, governments, family, and the like. Any singular church may not be engaged in each of these areas, but through collaboration with other ministries, we can lend strength to one another and foster the coming of Christ’s kingdom throughout society. This requires collaboration rather than competition.

Churches can map out ways to engage and serve the community. Leaders need to build relational equity with their people by advocating for matters of shared interest within the community. Never before have the opportunities been so available for the church to engage in community development, as governmental leaders, school boards, and local businesses are looking to discern how best to move forward in the days ahead. Not only that, but healthy local churches can advocate for other churches who are struggling due to the COVID-19 crisis. We must be humble enough to give and receive help.

Finally, leaders can find meaningful ways to advocate for those in their church who are doing good work in various domains of society and aid them in their mission wherever God has them.

Watch Elizabeth Rios share more about these mid-term opportunities.

Elizabeth Rios
Author

Dr. Rios is the founder and president of Passion2Plant, a church planting organization dedicated to training people of color to plant justice-oriented churches in urban communities. She serves as a board member of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition which is a national network of Hispanic evangelical congregations, leaders, and not-for-profits committed to Gospel-centered transformation in the work of justice and mercy. To highlight the voices of people on the margins and their allies, she hosts a monthly author Facebook live show called JustUs Talks through her organization The Passion Center. In addition, she is a senior consultant for Freedom Road, LLC and Co-Director of the Freedom Road Institute for Leadership and Justice which trains leaders to address the complex needs of our world.

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