Article written by Urban Alliance staff*. Photos courtesy of Urban Alliance network participants.

Holistic outreach. It sounds nice, but what is it? And is it really needed? The simple answer is yes. It is not only crucial to helping heal the brokenness in our communities, but can’t be done alone – and that means you are a key part of making a difference in the lives of our neighbors in need.

By definition, holistic (derived from the Greek word for “whole”) refers to the parts of something being intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole, and outreach ministries are ways that people are at work in God’s name, stretching out to meet needs in the wider community.

So, when holistic principles are applied to outreach ministries, something beautiful begins to unfold. Christ’s redeemed community responds to the world’s brokenness by proclaiming and modeling God’s love, and participating in the ongoing work of personal and social restoration. As Christ is making us whole, God works through us to bring wholeness to others by addressing not only physical needs, but spiritual needs as well.

Holistic outreach breaks down the barriers between those serving and those being served.

Holistic outreach does not feature perfect people who have it all together, reaching out to miserable needy people. Rather, it is a recognition that we are all on a journey of transformation together.

Holistic ministry values every person as a unique and marvelous creation.

Because of God’s power to make all things new, a transformational perspective sees individuals in terms of their potential rather than their problems. It means loving neighbors both far and near with the same joyous abandon that Jesus displayed, especially those who are most in need or least lovable.

At Urban Alliance, our vision is to see people become spiritually, physically, economically and socially healthy and whole as God intended.

To work towards this, our mission is to create opportunities for people to achieve lasting change in their lives through the collaborative work of churches and organizations in our local community.

In an effort to develop strategic plans to create more holistic ministry outreaches at their churches and organizations, several members of the UA network attended two community outreach trainings that were provided by Urban Alliance last fall where they were provided with practical, applicable tools for holistic outreach.

To help put these plans into action, network participants who attended both trainings were eligible for a grant to improve an existing ministry or establish a new one.

Here are some of the ways the UA network will be putting holistic outreach plans to action in 2014!

Youth Challenge of CT will be expanding a fairly new outreach called “Love Kitchen on the Road,” which helps provide food for the homeless and those who are facing life-controlling additions, who live on the streets or in shelters in Hartford. Youth Challenge has started ministering to people by providing food, prayer and in some cases, a warm coat. This ministry is now able to grow and reach even more people, and share God’s love.

Calvary Church of West Hartford plans to expand their Neighborhood Compassion Ministry by providing a “Single Mom’s Day Out.” This event will include a special lunch for the moms and their children. Calvary also plans to purchase a training resource to help start a support group for mothers.

Wintonbury Church will be using the grant to help make their Clothes Closet ministry more holistic by providing a time of fellowship for the volunteers and those participating in the outreach.

FaithCare, Inc. is now in its twentieth year of service! To celebrate this milestone, FaithCare has set a goal to partner with 20 churches or community organizations that can host health and wellness events, to provide preventive healthcare services. The funds from the grant will go towards purchasing medical supplies for these outreaches.

Glory Chapel International Cathedral will be using the grant funding to provide opportunities for their youth to grow spiritually, discover higher education options, and serve their community through The Hartford Project. One way they plan to do this is through curriculum that will help teach youth how to be leaders in a diverse society. Funds will also go towards trips to local colleges for high school juniors and seniors in their youth ministry.

*Some content courtesy of