In the midst of a consultation recently it became apparent that the two groups that were there were starting to talk past each other. One group took a macro approach. They asked, “What would this look like if it were completely fleshed out?” They wanted the big picture in mind first, then built from bottom up. This approach was either overwhelming or incomprehensible to those starting with a micro approach. They wanted to reach out, evanglize, make disciples and build something from there, making an impact as they could. When confronted with larger, systemic challenges, their response was, “How can we with just a handful of people make a difference in such a large problem?”

At that point I asked permission to share my perspective. I described Macro thinking vs. Micro thinking. Both are valid; it just depends on where you want to start. Both groups were aiming at the same goal. When they were asked to articulate it, they found they were in agreement. The difference was simply in how to get there—where to start. Sometimes we can start meeting needs on an individual basis, the ministry grows, and we find things that work. Other times we run into a persistent structural problem that is inhibiting people’s growth. At that point we need to discern what God is calling us to do. Do we confront the problem? Work around it? Target the roots?

As we start ministering to the whole person, we find the holes that need to be filled. Our responsibility is to listen to the Holy Spirit and discern how to best approach the situation. Both the micro and the macro approach are valid. The vision is still for transformed community and transformed lives. Two different starting points, but the same goal.