Waking a Sleepy Church: The Urgent Need for Mental Health Ministry

Broadcast on over 700 radio stations across the US, Janet Parshall is known as ‘the voice of Moody radio.’ She has written and spoken extensively on issues of Christian faith and American culture for many years. This past weekend, at Inclusion Fusion Live 2019, she spoke powerfully and meaningfully on something much more personal: mental health issues, and how the Church is responding, or more often not responding to the individuals and families in their midst with these very real struggles. 

I have been a member of the Janet Parshall fan club for more than twenty years. For me, Inclusion Fusion Live represented two dreams come true: I got to meet and talk with Janet Parshall, and I saw that my prayers for the past four years are beginning to bear visible fruit. At Inclusion Fusion Live in Cleveland, Janet and thirty other ministry leaders delivered important messages about how churches and the people within them can minister effectively to and with people impacted by disabilities of every kind, whether physical disabilities, or hidden disabilities like high functioning autism and mental illness. 

Janet’s keynote presentation is linked below, and on the Key Ministry Vimeo page. I encourage you to watch this important message and share broadly with your faith community, your pastor, your social media friends and followers. A transcription of her address will be added to this post later this week. In her message, Janet calls on the Church to wake up, and once again minister to brokenness, including the brokenness of mental illness.

We also encourage you to join the Key Ministry Mental Health Facebook groups. We offer groups for ministry leaders, and for families who need mental health support. Key Ministry also offers free consulting for churches working to develop mental health inclusion ministry. 

Just over four years ago, I began to hear loudly from God that mental health ministry is desperately needed in the Church. Precious little in the way of official ministry was available, other than what was being done by Saddleback Church and Key Ministry. I launched Outside In Ministries and eventually joined the Key Ministry team to help churches near and far understand the critical support faith communities are uniquely positioned to offer for people like me and you who have grappled with issues related to mental health and high functioning autism.

My scripture reading for today was Psalm 90. Verses 16 and 17 were both already highlighted in my Bible: 

Let Your work appear to Your servants

And Your majesty to their children.

Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us;

And confirm for us the work of our hands;

Yes, confirm the work of our hands.

Widespread mental health ministry in churches across the United States is no longer just wishful thinking; these ministries are beginning to emerge. Seeing what I have prayed for and longed for begin to come about is the confirmation of these two verses. 

God hears and responds to the prayers of His people. I can’t tell you how meaningful it is to see mental health ministries come forth, for the people who have suffered in their churches in silence and shame far too long.

Catherine Boyle is the Director of Mental Health Ministry for Key Ministry.