At the Bujumbura VIVA conference in Burundi, we discussed the definition and elements of holistic ministry. Much like the football coach that frequently directs training back to the basics, such as running, ball control and tackling, we often need to be reminded of what basic "good care" entails.

Meeting the holistic needs of an individual means ministering to their physical, spiritual, social, mental (educational, psychological), and emotional requirements. Different organizations take varying stabs at what all these categories and subcategories are, but it should become clear that holism simply means "whole-ism," helping the whole individual.

Quite frankly, this is how Jesus approached it. Scripture shows us how God incarnate reached out to people and assisted them on all these levels. He healed people of their ailments, gave them a cup of cool water and nourishment, made them feel loved and included, opened the Scriptures to them, and forgave their sins.

You can’t help a person mentally until their belly is full and they feel secure. Fulfilling a person’s emotional needs might mean helping with their health concerns first. And vice versa – dealing with health problems can often require tackling underlying emotional issues (stress, anxiety) first. We are complicated, integrated creations that God has designed to work most effectively as different systems are operating in harmonious accord.