“As we have suggested from our study of Luke 13:10-17, the categories of word and deed are at best ineffective and at worst distracting and confusing. For the church as the body of Christ, deeds of justice and mercy are inseparable from its worshiping identity. Communities are more complex, and the kingdom is much broader, seamless, and holistic. Holistic ministry, by the power of the Spirit, is about creating samples and signs of God’s new day in everyday settings. Therefore, it is about the restoration of life in its fullness. This is both evangelism and justice. Because the church is to socially embody its belief in Jesus, as Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians is an extended meditation, it is through the church that this is to be given expression.” Mark Gornik, in The Urban Face of Mission ed. Ortiz & Baker

I use the language of word and deed ministry because its had a long history of use in the evangelical and reformed churches in America, but I think Gornik is essentially right, the more these categories are applied and pressed onto evangelism and justice ministries the less helpful they are in drawing out the differences between the two. For instance, deed ministry of a justice & mercy nature speaks volumes to those who recieve of Christ’s love, the peculiarity of God’s people, and the transformation the Christian world and live view brings to society all in a non-verbal fashion; likewise sometimes the most potent form of justice ministry is to be loud, articulate advocates against injustice in our community’s.

I think there’ve been very good missiologists and community developers who’ve been alienated from one another because of holding these categories too tightly. Ultimately I think the way forward is to realize what Gornik has realized, “Holistic ministry…is about the restoration of life in its fullness. This is both evangelism and justice”, and holistic ministry is what God is calling His people to. What he has always called his people to. Within the Reformed tradition one very clear sign of this is having and maintaining Christ as our example who himself was both prophet, priest, and king.