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Saving Souls, Serving SocietyUnderstanding the Faith Factor in Church-Based Social Ministry$

Heidi Rolland Unruh and Ronald J. Sider

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195161557

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0195161556.001.0001

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(p.269) Appendix 2 Pastoral Interview Guide (excerpt)

(p.269) Appendix 2 Pastoral Interview Guide (excerpt)

Saving Souls, Serving Society
Oxford University Press

The object of this interview is to talk about the church's outreach ministries and about the pastor's understanding of the relationship between the spiritual and social aspects of ministry.

The Church's Mission and Ministry

  • 1. How would you describe this church's mission? Does the church have a mission statement?

    • a. What is the church's role or mission in relation to this community?

    • b. Which of the church's outreach ministries do you consider to be the most important, or the most central to the church's mission?

  • 2. Considering overall the ministries of your church that reach out to the community:

    • a. About how many people would you estimate have become Christians or been restored to active faith through the church's ministries over the last year?

    • b. Can you give an example of someone who became a Christian through outreach?

  • 3. How would you describe the overall impact or outcome of the church's outreach ministries on the community?

    • a. How effective would you say your church's outreach efforts have been? By what method or standard do you evaluate effectiveness?

    • b. Do you have specific goals for what you hope your outreach ministries will achieve?

    • (p.270)
  • 4. On the questionnaire, you answered that your church gives a [higher priority to members OR outreach to non-members OR to both] Can you say anything more about why this is your priority? Has this always been the priority of the church throughout its history?

  • 5. How does involvement in outreach affect the people who serve with the ministry?

    • a. How does the church's involvement in outreach affect the congregation as a whole? What are the benefits and what are the drawbacks for the congregation?

  • 6. Considering all your church's ministries that are aimed at trying to improve the quality of life of individuals or the community as a whole, would you say that, overall, your church emphasizes meeting people's needs through providing social services (such as food, clothing, emergency shelter, etc.), participating in economic or community development (such as job training, education, youth mentoring, health programs, day care, etc.), or working towards political change (e.g., political action groups, community organizing, voter registration, etc.)?

    • a. Why does the church focus on this/these area(s) of ministry rather than the other(s)?

    • b. What are the theological foundations for the way you approach social ministry? What biblical texts are important?

    • c. Is the concept of social justice important to this church's ministry? What does this concept mean to you?

  • 7. Have you ever addressed social or political issues in sermons or study groups? Which issues?

  • 8. Do you receive any funding from the government for your ministries? From private foundations?

    • a. What are the conditions, if any, under which you would accept government funding to support your community ministries?

  • 9. Do you have a sense of the extent to which people in the church meet each other's needs, or the needs of people outside the church, on an informal, one-on-one basis, outside of the church's social ministry programs? What kinds of needs are met in this way?

    • a. How do you motivate and train people in the church to meet the needs of others?


  • 1. Different people and churches have different understandings of what evangelism means. How would you define evangelism?

    • a. What does it mean to become a Christian? To be saved? (If other specific terms are used, such as witness or gospel, ask for further definitions)

    • b. What are the theological foundations for your church's evangelism? What biblical texts are important?

    • c. What are the various ways your church practices evangelism?

    • d. How do you train people in the congregation to evangelize?

    • (p.271)
  • 2. Do you think of becoming a Christian as a one-time decision, or as a more gradual process?

    • a. In the cases you have witnessed, are the changes that result from becoming a Christian usually dramatic or subtle? Can you give an example?

  • 3. How is God's love usually best shared—by telling someone verbally about the gospel, or by demonstrating God's love through caring actions, or both?

Relationship between evangelism and social ministry

  • 1. Which should be the focus of Christian ministry: people's social and emotional well-being, such as the quality of their health, living conditions, family life, etc.; or people's spiritual well-being, the quality of their relationship with God; or both?

    • a. (If both are important:) How are these concerns related?

  • 2. On the questionnaire, you answered that, overall, your church gives [priority to evangelism OR to social ministries OR to both equally.] Can you say more about why this is your priority?

    • a. Has this priority been about the same over the history of the church?

    • b. Is the present amount and balance of evangelism and social ministries right for this church, in your opinion, or would you like to see more or less of one or the other?

    • c. How much agreement is there in the congregation over what the church's priority should be in this area? Has this question ever caused any tension in the church?

  • 3. Does the church actively and consciously seek to combine its work in evangelism and social ministry? How does this work in practice? Please give examples.

    • a. Are there any social ministries that do not explicitly involve evangelism?

    • b. (If little or no integration:) Do you believe that outreach to the needy should not be accompanied by trying to introduce people to Christianity? Why?

  • 4. In a more general or theoretical sense, how would you describe the relationship between evangelism and social ministry—between sharing the gospel message, and helping people improve their social situation?

    • a. In what ways are these two aspects of ministry related, and how are they distinct? Are they ever in conflict?

    • b. Are there other churches or programs that you look to as models for this relationship?

    • c. What is the theological or biblical basis for your understanding of the relationship between evangelism and social ministry?

  • 5. How does your [denominational AND/OR ethnic] heritage influence your church's approach to outreach?

    • a. Are there any factors in the community that influence your church's approach to outreach?

  • 6. What do you see as the connection between salvation and social empowerment or improvement in a person's living situation?

    • a. How would you describe the relationship between a person's spiritual commitment, lifestyle choices, and socioeconomic well-being?

    • b. To what extent do poverty and other social problems reflect a spiritual need?

  • 7. What are the key factors that are needed to help a poor person to become economically stable?

    • a. If someone becomes a Christian and is a faithful disciple, what is the likelihood that their social status will improve? Or is it likely that they might stay poor?

    • b. Is it possible for someone who is not a Christian to experience empowerment?

  • 8. If a non-Christian who has a basic need wants to be helped through the church, but is not interested in hearing the message of the gospel or getting involved in the church, how would you respond or encourage members of the church to respond? Should the church continue to provide them with help?

  • 9. When you think of people who now live changed, better lives because of the work of your church, what do you think it is that is responsible for this long-term change? What are the factors that help this to happen?

    • a. Can you tell me about one or two people who have experienced significant life changes through the ministry of the church?

  • 10. What is it that distinguishes your social programs from similar secular programs? Could a secular agency providing the same services as you do, without the spiritual dimension, be as effective as your ministries, and why?

  • 11. Can you think of changes for the better in the community or in society in general that the church may have had some part in helping to bring about?

    • a. What do you consider the agents or factors most responsible for this change?

  • 12. What are the main obstacles to your church's ministry in the community? Is there anything that you think the church needs that would help your ministries to be more effective?