The Real Crisis
I came to Christ Memorial late in January of 2019. I'm not going to lie - coming from a church of 200 to a church of 2000 was a bit of a whirlwind. At my old church, when serving communion, I could literally say, "The body of Christ, broken for you, <name>" to every person who came forward.
I loved that.
But from a distance, I had always admired Christ Memorial. Tim Brown was almost my advisor in seminary (why did I delay enrolling for a year!?!). Another pastor invited me to a bible study at Christ Memorial while I was a pastor at my old church because he knew I lived nearby. CMC was trying the discipleship curriculum that I very much wanted to engage with at my old church.
So when I came I was excited. Learning everyone's name was my first challenge (and it remains so). Getting up to speed on everything that was happening seemed a daunting task. It was overwhelming, but at the same time exhilarating.
A couple of months later we engaged in Mental Health Awareness month. Seeing all the tables set up in the Gathering Place demonstrated the strong commitment this congregation has to meeting the current needs of people struggling from a variety of demons.
And these are demons.
The list is unending. But because I was engaging in so many areas, I was thankful that all I had to do was one interview during a service.
This year it's different. Mental health is not just another blip on the radar for me. It's front and center. I'm no psychologist or professional therapist, but I agree with the notion that mental health will be the next great crisis our nation encounters.
So the church needs to be ready.
Gordon Cosby started The Church of the Savior in Washington, D.C. after getting out of World War II. Cosby served as a chaplain to the Air Corp. and noticed something troubling. In the face of danger, the Christian soldiers did not react any differently than the non-Christians. They exhibited the same fears, the same anxieties, the same worries as everyone else. And this is not a shaming observation. He saw it as an opportunity to do something different.
So when he started a church, he pledged to God that the members would be different. They would engage in regular bible study, spiritual retreats, have mentors, and participate in missional small groups. And not just some of them. They all would.
The result was a resilient congregation. It was an authentic congregation. And it transformed parts of the city and even the nation. If you can get your hands on a copy, read Call to Commitment, by Elizabeth O'Conner. It's an incredible story.
The current coronavirus pandemic is revealing struggles inside all of us. As Dr. Henry Cloud reports, it disrupts our relationships and connections, destroys our structures on how we live and function in society, engages our fight or flight response, causes us to lose control, and strips us of opportunities to demonstrate our competencies.
The result can be a mental (and physical) breakdown.
But we can learn the practices and get the resources to become resilient people. As Paul wrote to the followers of Jesus in Corinth,
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down by not destroyed. (2 Cor. 4:8-9)
So friends, come and participate with us in worship. Sign up for our e-news under the "Services" tab to get resources for mental health services in our area. Go and check out the benice.org website and learn what it means to notice, invited, challenge, and empower.
Your life and health may just depend on it. And so might your neighbor's.
God wants you to know just how much you are loved and worthy, good and grace surrounded, blessed and valuable. Please don't let another day go by not believing that.
Grace and peace.