The church doesn't need to cater to itself or what is most convenient for them... Rather, the church needs to grow to become more flexible and cultivate positive change to help those around them.
It is without a doubt that the church can do better to minister to those struggling with mental health issues. Sadly, there are many churches and believers who have an incorrect way of thinking when it comes to mental health. Instead of extending love, support, and kindness, they judge, hurt, and ridicule those who struggle. It is important that we don’t become someone who does this and that, instead, we do all we can to help those with mental health issues.
Here are five ways the church could better minister to mental health:
1. Support Groups
One way the church could better minister to mental health is by having support groups at the church. Support groups need to be offered to those within the church, especially those struggling with mental health issues. Even those who do not struggle with mental health issues can benefit from having support groups at church. Everyone needs to make sure their mental health is well whether they have a mental health diagnosis or not. These support groups can offer proper help, encouragement, and advice from a biblical viewpoint.
Support groups can also help with mental health in that they build a sense of community. Since support groups tend to be smaller, with only 10-15 people or less, it can help these individuals build a stronger community among each other and realize they aren't alone–that there are other Christians who battle mental health problems. Unfortunately, in the present-day church, not much community is found within its four physical walls for those with mental health issues. Rather than being understanding, supportive, and helpful, they are ostracized or seen as less spiritual or less mature than others.
(Even if the church says they support those battling mental health problems, if there are no resources for those struggling, how much can the church's mere words mean?)
2. Biblical Counseling at the Church
A second way the church could better minister to mental health is by offering onsite biblical counseling. Within my hometown, there are churches who already include biblical counseling as part of their ministry and outreach. All churches need to start including this within their walls too. It can be a good outreach and can help believers have access to life-altering care. Whether you have a mental health issue or not, you can still benefit from biblical counseling. Biblical counseling covers many things pertaining to mental health, emotional issues, and relationship issues.
With help from biblical counseling, the church community will be able to receive the care they need. There are many therapists and counselors in the world who don't have a biblical perspective. This can cause the believer great confusion and can even cause them to question their faith. This is why it is important for biblical counseling to be offered at church without any sort of fee. Since it is part of the ministry of the church, the care extended needs to be given without charge in order to help the most people as possible.
3. Genuine Care, Love, and Concern
A third way the church could better minister to mental health is by extending genuine care, love, and concern. While this should be a given, not many individuals within the church extend genuine care, love, and concern for others. Jesus wants us to love all people just as He does. He loves all of us equally, and He wants us to do the same. The Lord went to the marginalized, the disabled, and the hurt. He didn't look down on somebody for their struggles; instead, He stood by them in their struggles and didn't push them away. Sadly, many people inside the church view mental health in a taboo sense and don't want to associate with those struggling with mental health concerns.
We don't need to think like this because we need to minister to the mental health of our community. If we think we are better than someone else because of their struggles, then we are acting and behaving as Pharisees. We can see how many times Jesus refutes the Pharisees and their false sense of pride. As Christians, we need to minister to those who are struggling because this is how we extend genuine care, love, and concern. Those struggling with mental health issues often don't feel loved, cared about, or needed. It is important that we help them in their struggles and extend genuine love to them, making them feel welcomed and supported in the local church.
4. Educate Themselves on Mental Health
A fourth way the church could better minister to mental health is by educating themselves. This aspect is crucially important because if we don't understand mental health, we are not going to be able to understand those who are struggling with it. Try to do a quick Google search on mental health and mental health problems. You aren't expected to be an expert; however, by knowing a little bit about mental health and the different mental health disorders, you will be at a great advantage to help others. It will also help you better understand others and why they behave the way they do, creating room for empathy and grace.
There are limitless sources online and in books that can help you know more about mental health. As the Body of Believers, known as the Church, we need to educate ourselves to best assist, help, and encourage those with mental health issues. Despite mental health not being talked about much in the church, we can change this and encourage open communication regarding mental health. We don't need to sit idle and expect the knowledge to come to us. It is vital we research these aspects on our own and do our best to retain the information we have learned.
If possible, your church can host a conference on mental health and teach the congregation about mental health. Within this conference, there could be sections on overall mental health, mental health disorders, and mood disorders. Through a day, few days, or a week-long conference, it would help many people learn more about mental health and allow them to stop viewing it as a taboo subject. As the church, we need to be aware of the struggles of our fellow believers and those around us to better serve, minister, and reach them.
5. Consider Having Multiple Worship Times
A fifth way the church could better minister to mental health is by considering hosting multiple worship times. This doesn't need to be overlooked because there are great advantages of having multiple worship times for those struggling with mental health. The church doesn't need to cater to itself or what is most convenient for them. Instead, the church needs to offer multiple worship times, such as times in the afternoon or evening. Those who struggle with mental illness might find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning and could miss their opportunity to come to service. In the same way, someone who is new to church and struggling with social anxiety might want to attend a worship time that is not as crowded.
Therefore, having multiple worship times will help cater to the mental health of others. Nowhere in the Bible are we told to come together for worship at one specific time. Rather, the church needs to grow to become more flexible and cultivate positive change to help those around them. If we are the Church of Christ and truly desire to help others know Him, then there are many steps we can take to better minister to those with mental health issues.
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Vivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.
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