You Need to Know How to Help Depressed People


Reposted from Rethink

Christians need to rethink the way they view mental health, and how to respond when someone approaches them suffering from mental health issues.

If you’re anything like me, finding yourself in a situation you don’t know how to handle can be difficult to muscle through.  Imagine a friend or loved one, perhaps even someone you don’t know that well, coming up and confiding in you that they believe they might have major depression, that they’ve been having dark thoughts, even thoughts of self-harm.  How would you respond?  What would you say?

Depending on who you are or what culture you live in, talking about feelings or deep personal problems might be very difficult and uncomfortable for you.

Regardless, conversations like these still happen, and can come up seemingly out of the blue from people we least expect, so it is vital for people to know how to handle situations like these in a calm and cool-headed manner.  This is especially true for youth leaders within churches, as children do not have the adequate thinking abilities and life skills needed to seek help for depression (or any mental illness) on their own.  So how we respond, and our words and reactions to the suffering individual is paramount for their step towards healing.

First, understand that depression is entirely too large of an issue for Christians not to have a viable and adequate response to it.  In 2014, around 15.7 million adults age 18 or older in the U.S. had experienced at least one major depressive episode in the last year, which represented 6.7 percent of all American adults.  That is no small group of people, and the ones that suffer from this mental illness are our friends, coworkers, and even family members.

Oftentimes, Christians’ response to mental illness is often to pray about it, or recommend more time with God because they mistakenly believe mental illness is a spiritual problem.  Although these ideas are well-meaning, they fall short in adequately interacting with someone with a mental illness.  Below are a few steps on how to appropriately respond to someone when they have confided in you that they are depressed or have suicidal thoughts.

Relax

It might feel like you’ve been thrown a bomb and you have to find a way to diffuse it in twenty seconds.  It might even seem like this person’s life is now entirely in your hands, but relax, take a deep breath.  This might be awkward for you, but imagine how it must feel for the other person.  Depression and suicidal thoughts often come with deep feelings of shame, guilt, and embarrassment, so be extra sensitive to that.

You want to appear approachable so mind your body language.  Place your hands by your side, or if you’re sitting, place them on your knees, and don’t cross your arms. Soften your face and listen to what they are saying.  Engage in the conversation, ask questions, be gentle, and just listen.

Thank Them for Sharing

Telling someone the darkest thoughts that run in your mind is no easy task.  It takes a lot of courage, and is absolutely worth commending.  This person has handed you something very delicate and they’re waiting to see how you react to it.  Be grateful that this person found you trustworthy enough to speak to on such a tough subject and be sure to tell them you’re glad they did.

Think Before Speaking And Don’t Make It About You

Telling the person to focus on good vibes, dishing out Bible verses, recommending uplifting books, or telling them that “the night is darkest just before the dawn” (it’s not) are often said with great intentions, but realistically, they can have adverse effects.  It might be tempting, but try not to reach for that inspirational phrase you believe will magically disappear their dark feelings, because it more than likely won’t work.  People battling depression are incredibly intuitive, and will pick up when you are trying to say things simply to make them feel better or to change the subject.

Try to refrain from stories of when you were very sad once, or when you had depression one time, because it really is entirely irrelevant at the moment.  This is not about you or how you’ve overcome similar struggles, this is about the other person and them only.

Responding with, “I’m very sorry you feel that way.  What can I do to help?” is the direction you want to steer, and often, will make the individual feel like you are empathizing with them.

Seek Wisdom, Speak To The Appropriate People

Don’t be afraid to acknowledge to this person that you don’t know how to handle it.  Strongly suggest local mental health professionals they can see, perhaps even a trip to the hospital might be in order.  Offer to help them get in touch with the people they need, and then suggest the two of you go to a mentor, a trusted family member or friend and gather a very small group of people to rally around this person.  The key is for the person to feel like you are with them, that you acknowledge their struggle, and that you are going to help.

Unless you are a licensed mental health professional, you don’t have the knowledge, training, or ability to correctly diagnose or treat anyone with depression or suicidal thoughts.  It’s best not to even try.  If you are dealing with an underage minor, you have a moral and legal obligation to not keep it a secret.  Let the minor know that you must bring the subject to light with their parents or guardians.  They might feel like you have betrayed their trust, but in the moment, their well-being and safety is of far greater importance.

Do Something, Don’t Just Pray About It

There is nothing wrong with suggesting prayer to someone who is hurting with mental health issues, but prayer must be done alongside professional help, not in place of it.  When the individual does not feel better after being recommended more prayer and “quiet time with God”, they are bound to feel as though they are not praying well enough, aren’t devoted enough, or even that God has abandoned them entirely.

Depression is made up of misfires in the brain, either brought on by trauma, major life events, or just not enough of a certain chemical they need to function.  Prayer alone is not enough to remedy this.

Speak To Your Church About Setting Aside Money For Therapy

I know of some churches I’ve attended that do it, but it’s a good idea to open a conversation with your church about setting aside funds for people who need to seek therapy.  Life is tough, and sometimes it requires a helping hand from professionals who know how to work with people.  Having funds for therapy can also be beneficial for married couples or for people in need of crisis counseling.

We would do well to remember Luke 5:17-39, when a band of people lowered a man through a roof to be healed by Jesus.  They were not content with merely waiting outdoors in prayer.  Rather, they climbed the building, broke through the shingles and rafters, through the sheet rock, and lowered the man to be healed.  Jesus declared it was by the action of their faith through which the crippled man could be heal.

What would it look like now for church communities to rally around, uplift, and support not only the physically afflicted, but the emotionally and mentally wounded?  What would it look like to not allow prayer to be limited to words, but be made into a call to action?

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Why Millennials Aren’t Attracted to the Church


 

Reposted from rethink

f we are honest the church in America is not doing well reaching the younger generation. Now I know there are churches that are doing great things, but as a whole we have a lot of room to improve.

I’m not a pessimist, or a glass half full, kind of guy. I like to classify myself as a realist. I know, I know. All realists are really just pessimists that cannot admit it. But I truly believe I’m a realist. I guess you can be the judge if I am or if I’m just in denial.

I don’t want this to come off as the sky is falling. I don’t think that is true. But I do think there are some easy things we can do so that the younger generations can know the love of God and find the benefits of living in community.

For lack of a better word I am going to use the word millennial throughout this post. I don’t really like that word because it comes with a lot of baggage. But I don’t know of another word that would adequately describe this (my) generation.


If you want some of the raw data on the state of the church here’s a few studies:
Barna | State of the Church
Pew | Religious Landscape
Pew | Americans Express Increasingly Warm Feelings Towards Religious Groups
Pew | The Changing Global Religious Landscape


These studies don’t paint the brightest of futures for the western church. Particularly with the next generation. Now I don’t believe we are all going to hell in a hand basket. And I certainly don’t think all hope is lost. In fact I believe now in the church more than ever. I’ve seen a lot of articles talking about how the church is dying. And I cannot disagree more. I don’t believe it is dying. I believe it just needs a shift in model.

For all of church history the model for church has been changing to suit the culture. Just look at recent church history in the past 100 years, and you will see all the innovations that have come and gone.

I believe that these studies that are coming out are pointing to the dire need of a major shift in how church is done in our culture.

As a millennial, if that’s what you want to call me, and someone who works in the church full-time, I find myself in a unique spot. I believe it’s time to start thinking about what needs to change and what needs to stay in our churches. If we don’t, the church in America will slowly die and will certainly lose all credibility.

Here’s 7 things that I have found that are turning the younger generations away from the church. I have heard these in conversations, read them in comment sections, and even been frustrated with them in my own life.

Lack of Real Community

I know what you are thinking… We have an awesome small group ministry, plus you can always grab coffee before service and hang out. While those things can promote community those simply aren’t enough. The main focus of the average church is their Sunday service. Which for all the good they do, the biggest weakness is they lack community.

The focus of energy in most churches is on what’s happening on stage on Sunday and not the community Monday-Saturday.

I’m not saying the church service as we know it is bad. But we must recognize what it cannot do. If we want all people to find a place in our churches then we have to put more effort into how we do community.

Sermons are Still the Primary Teaching Tool

At one point sermons were the best way to communicate the Gospel. Then someone got the genius idea to put sermons on tape cassettes so you could listen anywhere. And then CDs came along, and now mp3s. Those were all great ideas.

But now it’s time to rethink how we teach our churches about Jesus. I, along with many 20-30 year-olds, am constantly listening to podcasts. And there is so much GREAT stuff out there. They are conveying information in new and refreshing ways. Many Christians have hopped on board and started talking about the Gospel and what it means to follow Jesus. And this generation is eating it up.

My question is why haven’t churches done this yet?!

I’m not talking about putting your sermons on a podcast. Every church does that. I’m talking about crafting a podcast specifically designed to be a podcast. One that can tackle some of the tough, and historically unapproachable, topics. I did a search this past week looking for churches doing this, and I came up with 2… I’m sure there are more. But the point is the vast majority of churches are not teaching in the primary format that culture has become adapt to using.

I suspect the sermon as we know will slowly disappear or at least massively change. The way to teach the Gospel effectively to the younger generations will be through technology.

All (or most) of the Energy Goes Into the Church Service 

We already talked about this a little in the first point, but I think this goes at a deeper point. Most millennials aren’t interested in just going to church; they want to participate in church.

This means that the church needs to provide opportunities to be a part of the church on Sundays AND throughout the week. Community is a big deal. Also the church needs to provide opportunities to serve in the local community.

I know most churches will respond: we do that! We have Life Groups, and we give to a lot of outreaches. While many churches do that they have not geared it in a way that connects with millennials.

Lack of Trust in Institutions

In previous generations large institutions meant credibility. However they increasingly mean corruption to the younger generations. The natural bent of millennials is to not trust institutions. That certainly doesn’t mean every church is corrupt. In fact I would say the exception is the corrupt church, not the rule. But it is important to recognize the lens in which the church is viewed through.

In order for churches to gain trust back they have to show, and prove, that they are trustworthy by being transparent.

Their Thoughts Aren’t Valued

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard a story like this: A young person walks into church with a new or different idea on how to run a ministry of the church. Rather than be heard they are just shut down with an excuse on why that wouldn’t work. Or that they are too young and inexperienced.

Millennials need to be heard and their ideas valued. In fact many of their ideas will benefit the church. But sadly most of these ideas are left on the ground because no one took time to listen.

Think about this for a minute… Who’s going to be leading the church in 10-20 years? Yeah, millennials. If we don’t give them the opportunity now in a way where they can grow and learn there won’t be any qualified leaders in 10 years when we need them.

The Church is Not a Safe Place to Wrestle With Issues/Theology

This is a big one for me. The church should be the safest place to bring whatever is going on in your life out into the open and deal with it. But often the church is not a safe place to wrestle with your theology. If you don’t align with what the church believes then it’s the door.

The church should be a safe place to question Biblical inherency, gender roles, what’s sin and what isn’t, talk about doubts, and even disagree about issues. The church should be the safest place to figure life out and what you believe. But more often then not the church is a place where you have to have all your “stuff” together. And if your life is a mess or you don’t prescribe to the same theology then you aren’t welcome.

We should be able to engage in healthy conversations about theology. And when we disagree have maturity and pursue unity. The only thing, and I mean the only thing, that I think disqualifies someone from the body of Christ is an unwillingness to grow.

Begging for Scraps


chickfilaprayer

Reposted from Faith Tap

Helping the homeless is something that some of us love to do, and something others avoid for their own reasons. But when one struggling homeless man wandered into a Murfreesboro, Tennessee Chick-fil-A, he got the surprise of a lifetime.

The man came in wanting any leftover food scraps the store had to spare – but he left with so much more!

A father-daughter duo was enjoying a quiet meal to themselves when they witnessed the kind actions of the Chick-fil-A manager. The father, Joey Mustain, posted the entire story to Facebook as soon as they got home!

“I took Stella to Chick-fil-A today. It’s our normal daddy-daughter spot. It’s clean, so good, and the playground has a tractor beam on her the moment she sees it.

When we finished eating and she’d worked up her dessert appetite playing with the other kids, we went back to trade in her toy for ice cream. She wanted to sit at a table to eat the cone (something we usually do in the truck), and I’m so glad she did.

We took a booth right next to the spot where you wait for your drink to be ‘refreshed,’ and we had a front-row seat to this beautiful scene: a homeless traveler had walked in and asked if they had any extra food.

Mud was wet and caked on his well-traveled shoes.

His hair was matted, and his beard wasn’t a statement as much as it was a necessity and a sign that he doesn’t get to shave as often as most of us do.

People near him kept their distance, but that didn’t stop him from being kind. He spoke to people who reluctantly spoke back, and he smiled while he waited on a manager.”

It seemed as though nothing could faze this gentle homeless man.

The manager approached the homeless man, and Joey was shocked by what he heard during the ensuing conversation!
“All I could pick up on of the conversation was the manager saying that he’d love to give him a full, warm meal. Not just scraps or extras.

The only thing he required was that the man let him pray with him.

After the homeless man agreed, there was no waiting for things to die down, there was no scooting anyone to the side.

As busy as they were, the manager stopped then and there, laid his hand on the man, and proceeded to pray.

filet

I heard love in that prayer. The homeless man wasn’t some untouchable stain on business. He was the reason that store opened its doors this morning (or any morning).

I asked Stella to watch and she stared. She asked what was happening and when I told her, she bowed her head, too.

I realized then and there that Chick-fil-A doesn’t simply do business for profits, they truly use business to minister….

I love teaching my daughter life lessons, and I also love being there to watch other Christians teach her life lessons. Thank you, Chick-fil-A, for taking care of the latter today.”

The manager could’ve easily ushered the dirtied man away from his restaurant, but instead, he chose to make a positive difference.

As the weather gets chillier and the homeless are forced to endure frigid, dangerous conditions, think about how you can make a positive change! No matter where you live, there’s a homeless shelter that will gladly take your old clothes, volunteer time or money (if you have extra to spare).
You do have what it takes to change lives for the better, just as this amazing manager did!

Chick-fil-A


unnamed

By Bill Callen:Top Right News

Chick-fil-A, the same fast-food outlet has once again proved a positive to the world. This time it did so by unveiling an amazing Veterans Day tribute that left Georgia resident Eric Comfort in complete shock.

According to a Facebook post he published on Mon, when he walked into a local Chick-fil-A, Comfort discovered a”Missing Man Table”that contained a single rose, a Bible & a folded American flag, as well as a plaque in which was the following explanation:

“This table is reserved to honor our missing comrades in arms.The tablecloth is white – symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call of duty.

The single red rose, displayed in a vase, reminds us of the life of each of the missing and their loved ones and friends of these Americans who keep the faith, awaiting answers. The vase is tied with a red ribbon, symbol of our continued determination to account for our missing. A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears endured by those missing and their families who seek answers. The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God. The glass is inverted – to symbolize their inability to share this evening’s toast. The chair is empty – they are missing.”

After the story went viral, the store manager, Alex Korchan, explained to WSB that his team members had set up the table because they “wanted to honor veterans.” Furthermore, he offered free meals to all veterans and their family members on Veterans Day. Korchan also put up a poster so that customers could write in the names of loved ones who they have lost. “We’ve had a lot of people who have come in and seen it and been touched by it,” Korchan continued. “It’s been special to see.”

God in Gotham


statue-of-liberty-new-york-city

Reposted from Mustard Seed Budget

New York City – never considered the spiritual heartbeat of America — is now experiencing revival, especially among millennials flocking to upbeat services with vibrant faith communities.

“A lot of people told us, ‘this is the graveyard of churches. Don’t go there. All the hipsters won’t want to come to church.’ We felt that’s the best place to be, where no one wants to go to church,” said Josh Kelsey, senior pastor of C3 Brooklyn Church.

In 1989, less than 1% of city residents attended church, according to CBN. But now about 5% goes to church, and there are hundreds of churches, big and small, scattered throughout the city.

The C3 Church in Brooklyn

The C3 Church in Brooklyn

“New York has reached the tipping point,” CBN concluded. If current trends continue, it could become a majority Christian city by the year 2026, according to CBN.

It turns out that Batman is not going to save Gotham City. Jesus is.

The formula for success has been to revive the unchanging elements like prayer and Bible study while changing the liturgy and relational dynamics to fit the multi-cultural, educated population of the city, pastors say.

“Church for me was a place where I always felt I had to be perfect,” said one church-goer. “C3 allows me to embrace my imperfections and know that God still loves me regardless. So it’s changed my perspective because I know I can still be a human and still beloved by God, which is not an idea I had before.”

Pastor Josh Kelsey

Pastor Josh Kelsey

A 2013 Barna survey found 32% of residents of the Big Apple considered themselves born-again, up from 20% in the 1990s, Religion News Service reported

“New York City is not known as a particularly religious place,” the RNS article stated. “But it is more spiritually active today than even 2001 in the wake of 9/11.”

The Presbyterians and the Dutch Reformed Churches were strong in New York City in the early 1800s but began to misfire as the city grew and changed its ethnic makeup, according to Pastor Tim Keller, a prominent minister in NYC.

When Catholic immigrants flooded Lower Manhattan in the 1880s, churches found themselves with fewer and fewer members. Restaurants, stores and theaters burgeoned, supplanting churches as a social gathering place. Many churches moved out of the ethnic downtown, and others built houses of worships in a fruitless effort to attract congregations, Keller said.

With numbers dwindling, churches grasped for fixes. Charles Briggs of Union Theological Seminary tried modernizing the message, teaching that much of scripture contains error. This gave rise to liberal Christianity, and instead of attracting followers with a more “intellectually reasonable” message, it finished off local churches, Keller said.

In recent years, New York City grew more expensive and cosmopolitan, attracting college-educated professionals who sometimes took a dim view of faith. In 1989, only 1% of the city attended a Bible-preaching church.

But now a new generation of Christian leaders is spearheading a pendulum swing back to God. Mac Pier, founder of the New York City Leadership Center, coordinates “concerts of prayer” with a network of congregations in the city.

“There’s been a huge hunger in churches across New York to come together and pray together over the last 25 years,” he told The Christian Post in 2014. “We’ve had 2000 churches, over a quarter of a million people that have gathered in various expressions of prayer including prayer walks, prayer summits, the National Day of Prayer. We have had a daily prayer vigil” for over 20 years.

Pastor Tim Keller pastors a Presbyterian church in New York.

Pastor Tim Keller pastors a Presbyterian church in New York.

There are 2,500 Hispanic churches, 800 Korean churches and 400 churches in Harlem alone, Pier said.

“They make a contribution to the community,” he said. “The provide volunteerism. They engage public schools. Ninety percent of the active Christian church is non-white. New York is probably the most international church in human history.”

Christianity Today reported in 2013 the “proliferation of immigrant churches and white evangelicals, who now compose up to 5 percent of NYC’s population. Here, charismatic Christians are challenging their city’s wide divide between weak and strong—and showing that there is a power beyond the dollar and the degree.”

Indeed, New York City is not an abyss of zombies, Starbucks-sipping elites who believe they’re too smart to believe in God. It is a vibrant community much in need of responding to God.

“We’re not coming in with a message that will discourage them but rather lift their eyes to know who Jesus is,” said Pastor Kelsey. “If we do it from a place of humility and empathy, then people are receptive to it. Even if they’ve never heard it before or they come in thinking this is irrelevant, once they come in and sense the presence of God and the community and the fellowship, they really do open up to what God is about.”