In the final installment of our series, Ten Strategies for Promoting Mental Health Inclusion at Church, Steve examines the importance of engaging and mobilizing the people of your church to do the work of a thriving mental health ministry.
Mental health ministry isn’t a spectator sport. Everyone gets to play.
Your people are your greatest asset in reaching out to and building relationships with children, teens and adults with mental illness and their families. Given the statistics on the prevalence of mental illness among kids and adults in the U.S., it’s a fair statement that most of your attendees/members will know at least one person impacted by mental illness lacking a meaningful connection to a local church. Empowering them to be the “hands and feet of Jesus” can have a powerful impact in your local community.
Let’s look at the different ways your mental health inclusion team might empower the people of your church to own your church’s ministry…
Service: Often, the most meaningful ministry a church can offer takes place through the spontaneous action of individual Christians in responding to and meeting needs where God has placed them. Libby Peterson from our team did a fabulous job here describing the mindset with which your church’s people can approach the challenge…
Here is one small step. If the Lord has you in proximity to a family (impacted by mental illness) who does not know Jesus – in other words – if you encounter this family where you live, work or play – take a small step towards them. Begin to seek God’s help in building a relationship. Invite the mom for coffee, the dad to a sporting event, the child for a play date, offer to grab groceries on your next trip or just call some afternoon to say “Hi”. Trust the Lord will use that relationship for HIS glory – after all Jesus lives IN YOU and as this family grows in relationship with you – they will inevitably begin to see Jesus. Watch for opportunities to BRING them into a gathering of people who love Jesus. Be open to inviting them to belong – and know that it’s in the belonging that people often first come to believe!
Others will have more defined service roles…leading a small group, participating in your church’s respite ministry, serving as a Stephen Minister-but everyone has a place to serve on your team.
Evangelism: Everyone in your church who has come to faith in Jesus has the opportunity to share the Good News with the people God places in their path on a daily basis. How might your inclusion team keep this opportunity at the forefront of their minds?
During our discussion of online church and social media, we touched on the importance of making resources available to your church members in formats that can be shared easily through social media. Given that the average American adult now spends 5.6 hours/day consuming digital media, your people are increasingly likely to encounter people God places along their digital path. How can your team empower and resource your teens and adults to share the Good News and invite those they encounter online into relationship with the people of your church, and ultimately, into a relationship with Jesus?
Presence: Our friend Jim Hukill discussed the importance of the ministry of presence in this talk from Inclusion Fusion 2012. Here’s how the folks at Fuller Youth Institute describe presence…
Neil Holm defines this concept as “a faith presence that accompanies each person on the journey through life.” This presence in each of us reflects God’s presence, love, and peace. Central to this ministry philosophy is the idea of “being with.” The love and presence of God is embodied as we are with the other person in their moment of crisis. A ministry of presence can bring comfort and express care without words. Presence encompasses physical, emotional, and spiritual care. This is sacramental presence. It is a revelation of Jesus’ care and compassion through listening, being with, and affirming.
The church is everywhere the people of your church have been positioned. How will your team prepare your people to extend this ministry where they’ve been placed?
Key Ministry is pleased to make available our FREE consultation service to pastors, church leaders and ministry volunteers. Got questions about launching a ministry that you can’t answer…here we are! Have a kid you’re struggling to serve? Contact us! Want to kick around a problem with someone who’s “been there and done that?” Click here to submit a request!