If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you’ve likely heard that we have a book coming out soon in which we share a model for churches to follow in ministering with individuals and families affected by mental illness.
Our ministry team has been compiling useful resources to assist churches interested in pursuing a mental health inclusion strategy in preparation for the release of Mental Health and the Church. New sections to be added to our website over the next week or two will include…
- Key Ministry resources
- Mental health ministry organizations
- Social Media
One resource we believe will be helpful for pastors and ministry leaders seeking to implement the ideas shared in the book are the stories of children, adults and families who have attempted to attend worship services and participate in the full range of ministry activities offered by the local church while affected by a broad range of mental health conditions.
Church leaders need concrete examples of what’s helpful and hurtful to better serve individuals like you and families like yours. Your stories can help them better understand how to most effectively welcome and minister with people of all ages with mental illness and their families. To give you an illustration of what we’re looking for, I’ll share two examples from the book. The first is from a family who stopped attending church as a result of their experiences. The second is from a family who received an extraordinarily blessing from their church.
“Kristen” shared the following in response to one of our blog posts several years ago:
Twenty years ago, I was repeatedly told by many people that I just needed to pray harder and that if my relationship with Jesus was better, my severe depression would be healed . . . But my depression was not healed. I left the church for several years, but returned hoping that not all Christians thought that way. Of course, I also didn’t tell too many church friends about my mental illness.
Fast-forward to the present. I now have two children with severe mental illness. Last year, my daughter was forced to join a Sunday school class in which she knew no other child. I tried in vain to explain that she had severe social anxiety and needed to be in a class where she had a friend. Because of that, she wasn’t happy in Sunday school and ended up quitting the children’s choir too. We hardly ever go to church any more. I write this with tears in my eyes because I want to find a church where my kids and I are accepted, and yes, even given “special” treatment from time to time.
Emily Colson writes periodically for our Key for Families blog. She authored a blog post several years ago describing the way she and her son (Max) were treated at the movies when Max experienced the sensory stimulation as overwhelming. In response to Emily’s post, some families from her church rented out a movie theater so that Emily and Max, together with other families in their community with similar needs could have a friendlier experience.
As the movie came to a close, the Muppets began to sing what was clearly the grand finale. No one wanted the evening to end. Suddenly, people flooded into the aisles as if they were leaving. But instead, they began to dance. Everyone free. No armor. No barriers between us.
I looked around in awe and wondered if this is what Jesus envisioned when he said, “Love one another.” When He spoke those words, did he picture this very moment in a theater, when love would take our breath away and lift us out of our seats. When His love would win. God’s story of redemption is written across our lives over and over again.
Do you have a story to share – positive, negative or a little of both – that might help churches do a better job of ministering with kids, adults and families affected by mental illness? Click here and you’ll be redirected to a form that will allow you to share your story. You’ll have an opportunity to indicate if you would like to remain anonymous. Our team reserves the right to use or not use any stories submitted and to edit for inappropriate language, grammar and punctuation before posting on our website or social media platforms.
Thanks for sharing!
In Mental Health and the Church: A Ministry Handbook for Including Children and Adults with ADHD, Anxiety, Mood Disorders, and Other Common Mental Health Conditions, Dr. Stephen Grcevich presents a simple and flexible model for mental health inclusion ministry for implementation by churches of all sizes, denominations, and organizational styles. The book is also designed to be a useful resource for parents, grandparents and spouses seeking to promote the spiritual growth of loved ones with mental illness. Available for pre-order now with delivery scheduled for February 6 at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and ChristianBook.