It has been my personal experience that many Christians and/or Christian congregations seldom utilize a holistic approach as it pertains to Christian formation. Often we, as part of the church of Christ focus on certain areas of our being because we deem them of more importance, while we neglect to connect every part of our humanity as a whole in our spiritual formation.
As a point of reference, I’ll relate my own experience as a child. When my family became members of a Church of God in Puerto Rico, I quickly picked up on the idea that the most important component of our being was the body. For example, a lot of emphasis was placed on how we looked as a viable expression of sanctification. The moment I accepted Christ as my savior, I had to dress a certain way, my hair had to be a specific length, and if I had tattoos, I had to cover them up, and those were just some of the requirements in order to be a part of the Christian community.
What I experienced as a result was frustration at the lack of guidance to issues of the heart, as well as emotional and social issues. It seemed to me that as long as I covered my ankles, my heart would be in line with the spirit, and as a result everything else would fall into place in my life, and I would then be seen as a respectable spiritual member of the Christian community. Of course, this was not the case for me, and often I found myself experiencing frustration and confusion. Obviously, not every Christian has this approach, however, many Christian institutions have develop a subtle way of approaching Christian formation in this manner.[quote]In The Brazos Introduction To Christian Spirituality, Evan B. Howard states, “human beings are complex entities comprised of body, mind, soul/spirit, emotions, and we cannot extricate one aspect from the others.” [/quote] It is important for those of us who are in spiritual leadership positions to understand that every part of the human being needs to be nurtured in order for healthy growth to take place, especially as it pertains to Christian formation of individuals living in community. Of course, it goes without saying that anyone in a leadership position would benefit from taking a holistic approach with those they lead.
In many Asian businesses, workers are required to take time during the work hours for exercising, not because they want their employees tired and sweaty throughout the day, but because they see value in having a healthy body and a clear mind in order to produce good work. In Spain, every business closes for a two-hour lunch break in order that people will eat lunch and then take a nap before returning to work. The towns literally close down during lunchtime for this purpose. The Spaniards understand the importance of getting enough rest in order to be productive.
I worked for an organization several years back, where every morning the entire team would gather for prayer before starting the day’s work (this was not a church setting). I worked for a law firm for several years, and every Thursday, we would prepare a “sack-lunch” and would take the first two hours of the work day to walk the streets of Downtown Atlanta feeding the homeless (this was not a Christian organization). If we, as leaders understand the importance of why we need to take a holistic approach when we lead, our organizations, churches, business, and even our home-life would greatly benefit from much healthier and positive results. If businesses are implementing this approach why do we not do the same in our ministries and churches? Hum…perhaps something to think about for this New Year.