Sunday, September 17, 2017

4 Ways Pastors Can Help With Mental Health

A 2013 LifeWay Research survey found nearly half (48%) of evangelicals believe that serious mental illness can be overcome with prayer and Bible study alone. If we found out that 1:4 of our people had cancer, would we encourage them to blow off their doctor and join a cancer Bible study instead?

 

Most pastors I know prefer serving on the prevention side of mental health. In all honesty, we are not adequately trained to assess, much less diagnose, many mental health issues. Here are four proactive ways we can help lead a mentally healthy ministry.

Educate Ourselves

Most people do not know what we do not know about mental health. For those of us fortunate enough to go to graduate school (seminary), we took the obligatory counseling class. That class did not qualify us to become counselors any more than our obligatory music class qualified us to be worship pastors.

A 2013 LifeWay Research survey found nearly half (48%) of evangelicals believe that serious mental illness can be overcome with prayer and Bible study alone. If we found out that 1:4 of our people had cancer, would we encourage them to blow off their doctor and join a cancer Bible study instead?

As a church leader, I know from first-hand experience that it is very difficult to discern between a chemical problem and a character problem. It is more obvious what to do with a broken body than a broken mind, so we often default to the easiest answers. Sometimes our own family or church members are suffering in silence because they are afraid to ask for help. If you have an anxiety disorder, how difficult it must be to reach out for help and push past the barriers of ignorance, stigma, and fear.

Pastors have piles of unread books, posts, and articles, so why add another homework assignment? I’m feeling your pain, friend. More importantly, we are called to feel the pain of our members. When one part of the body suffers, we all suffer (1 Corinthians 12:26). Understanding such suffering on a basic level will help you to help one-fourth of your members and staff.

Leaders are problem solvers, so we are reluctant to admit to ourselves or others when we are winging it. We need to stop trying to diagnose mental health challenges because we are no more qualified to assess them than we are qualified to assess physical health challenges. Pastors don’t care much for Google theologians, so why would we attempt to address mental health with the same causal approach?

Equip Our Members

Good preaching will engage the mind (logos) as well as the heart (pathos). I am not a mental health professional, so this article is not an attempt to explain burnout or depression. My desire is to help pastors and church leaders to create a church culture where sound minds are sharpened and confused minds are comforted.

According to Ephesians 4:11-12, our job is to equip our members for ministry. Since the average pastor and church member doesn’t understand most mental health issues, I would encourage you to recruit a trusted voice to come and lead a training session. The last church I pastored hosted a one day biblically based seminar called, Think On These Things. Approximately 400 adults showed up on a Sunday afternoon to hear about mental health!

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The post 4 Ways Pastors Can Help With Mental Health appeared first on The Aquila Report.



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