On June 11 at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention LoveLoud ministries, a part of the North American Mission Board, sponsored a panel discussion on “Mental Illness and the Mission of the Church.” I was honored to serve on this panel with Frank Page, Ed Stetzer, and the moderator Ryan West.
Over the course of this discussion we addressed questions such as:
- How many and which of our daily life struggles should be called mental illness?
- Why do people who struggle with mental health experience such negative stigmas?
- What does the gospel say to those (either individuals or families) struggling through mental health issues? How does the application of the gospel’s message change in light of the origin/cause of a given mental health struggle and when the cause is unclear?
- What about the relationship between the gospel, theology, and other disciplines—that may or may not be helpful—such as psychology?
- What is the role of the church in ministering to individuals/families struggling with mental health?
- How does the church differ from other organizations/entities in a community that offers help? What kinds of things is the church in a unique position to do for mental health concerns that are otherwise unavailable if the church does not fulfill her mission?
- What would you like to say to pastors/leaders concerning walking with people long-term through these issues?
- What are the realities that churches need to consider before jumping into a formal counseling ministry?
- How does a church begin a ministry to people struggling through mental health issues?
I was grateful to be a part of this conversation and am glad to see the church become increasingly willing to engage this important of part of soul care.
To listen to the MP3 of this panel discussion click here.
To read the Baptist Press story on this panel discussion click here.
For my article “Towards a Christian Perspective on Mental Illness” click this link.