On the show today we are talking all about 3 Core Values that are the foundation of a Care Ministry. These are Belonging, Purpose and Hope. I believe these three tenants are seen in Jesus’ ministry and are found in best-practice counselling methods and decades of research show that they are basic human needs for flourishing.
When you build your care ministry or ensure that every ministry and program strengthens these core values you create a ministry that is pointing people to Jesus, you’re utilizing effective strategies that support people’s well-being, and you are strengthening your community and building disciples.
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It doesn’t matter if the care your church offers is done by sr. leadership, or deacons, volunteers or you have an established care ministry department. Regardless of the church I work with has a large, medium and small church each one has said the same thing to me.
We don’t have the resources to meet all the needs of our congregation. We don’t have the funds, volunteers, or tools to meet the growing needs and complex issues our people are facing.
This can feel very overwhelming. It’s natural to want to meet the needs and solve the problems for the people you love and serve. Especially when people are coming to you expectantly and desperate for help.
But let me take that pressure off you right away. You can’t be all things to all people. No one organization can. It’s impossible. So take a deep breath and know that there will be situations, circumstances that you can not fix or solve.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t provide support. The Church is perfectly set up to support belonging purpose and hope which are core needs within a person. It’s what every person is looking for.
There has been a ton of research done on the human need for relationships and belonging has been identified as one of the most important needs that humans must fulfill along with food and shelter.
Researchers Roy Baumeister and Mark Leary said that satisfying the belongingness motive requires that two aspects of relationships be met: The first part is that people need to have positive and pleasant, not negative, interactions with others.
The second part specifies that these interactions cannot be random but, rather, should take place as part of stable, lasting relationships in which people care about each other’s long-term health and well-being.
Is this is not what the church is all about? A community of people that encourage uplift and support one another. So often we call the church our family. Meaning that we care for each other’s long-term health and well-being.
The need for relationships is very clear throughout the Bible; both the need for a relationship with Christ and with one another.
From the beginning, God identified that it’s not good to be alone and created women to partner together in the work of tending the garden. Proverbs 27:17 shares wisdom of the benefits of sharpening one another and Hebrews 10:24- 25 exports us to not neglect to come together and stir one another up in love.
But the Bible also specifically identifies that all are welcome to belong to the family.
Galatians 3:28, and Romans 1:6 and 2 Corinthians 5:17 tell us that regardless of your background, or past you are accepted and belong in Christ. And 1 Corinthians 12:13 not only says that you belong despite your difference, but that your uniqueness is a gift to the whole family.
If the church became intentional at being a safe place where people belong regardless, of where they came from, their past and the struggles they are facing. You would have enough seats to hold them all.
I think this is what people say they want for their church, but we get busy with other things. I would encourage you to look at every ministry and program from ushers, greeters and groups and see where you can how you can be intentional at creating a culture of belonging.
Having a sense of purpose, meaning and seeing that your identity is valuable and you can contribute to something greater than yourself has shown that it benefits your mental health, physical health and relationships.
A sense of purpose is a fundamental component of a fulfilling life.
One way to look at the importance of the need to have a purpose is to consider what happens when the need is unmet.
There have been articles written about the need for those who are entering retirement to have a new purpose/goal to make the transition easier. You would think that a lifetime of working and having a purpose is enough, but no that’s not the case.
A sense of purpose is linked with identity and the need to feel a part of something bigger than ourselves. When this is lost or perhaps they didn’t have it in the first place people are susceptible to anxiety and depression and have a higher risk of health concerns.
People crave purpose and research has found that people with a strong sense of purpose are better able to handle the ups and downs of life. Purpose can act as a protective barrier against life’s challenges. For example, a person with a strong sense of purpose remains satisfied with life even while experiencing a difficult day.
While there is life coaching and career counselling and therapy available to help people find purpose within themselves. The church offers purpose, meaning and identity in God.
As God’s creation, our purpose is in knowing Him and making him known. And as believers, there is a lifetime of meaning in this work.
Through the journey of knowing him, we discover that he has created us with amazing gifts.
We are strengthened knowing that we are created on purpose for a purpose. Our identity isn’t dependant on what we do but on who Christ is. Our value isn’t contingent on our record of good deeds but on Christ and we are accepted as children of God.
I believe that the foundation of care ministry is seeing every person as someone with skills, gifts and purpose and helping them discover them and find fulfillment walking them out in knowing Jesus and making Him known. And for some of you, this probably sounds a lot like discipleship. Because that’s I think there is a lot of overlap in what people call care ministry and discipleship.
We are walking alongside people as they navigate who they are in Christ and overcome struggles and strongholds.
As caregivers, we often find ourselves as caretakers of hope. When people are suffering they often don’t have the capacity to hold onto hope as they wade through their difficult emotions. So we hold the hope for them, supporting them and walking alongside them until they are able to pick the hope back up.
This function of being the caretakers of hope happens in many relationships. Friends and family are often hope caretakers and I know of many nurses and teachers who are also gifted in holding hope for people as they grieve or suffer. As a clinician, holding space or being a caretaker of hope is a high honour.
While many of these other roles function as holders of hope and offer encouragement they can not be givers of hope.
As Christians, our hope is in Christ. As ministry caregivers, we can both be the holders of hold and invite people to look to God as the giver of hope.
Having hope in Christ doesn’t remove life’s struggles but it gives us hope in something bigger.
The local church offers hope that is not failable and is not dependant on people. No other system or association is able off this level of hope because as we know Jesus is our only hope.
Dr. Everett Worthington has been researching Hope for 40 years and the result are that hope offers not only the encouragement of an expected outcome but by simply having hope other areas of life are positively impacted.
Studies show that those with more hope throughout their lives had better physical health, better health behaviours, better social support and long life. Hope also led to fewer chronic health problems, less depression, less anxiety and a lower risk of cancer.
Most organizations encourage people to summons internal hope or search for positive messages to inspire hope or point to small developments and growth as evidence that there is hope that life will improve. And research chose that these practices of finding hope greatly improve one’s life.
But how much more will be learning about the infallible hope of Christ.
When we think of care ministry, we often think of pastoral counselling, groups, benevolence or prayer teams. And while these are fantastic vehicles for offering care, the care itself happens where ever belonging purpose and hope are offered.
Care is not limited to these traditional vehicles. To limit care to these cookie-cutter programs and curriculums does not consider the incredible impact that is offered in so many other church ministries
Every church has unique strengths and resources, each community has a different culture. To limit care to happen in only these programs is so limiting. Anything that intentionally strengthens belonging, purpose and hope in your church is offering care. Because these are the foundational values of care and these are strengths that only the church can offer.
God knew what he was doing when he created us to have these innate needs to flourish, and He modelled the local church to be perfectly suited to meet these.
If your church does nothing more than build into people a sense of belonging, help them discover their purpose and offer them hope then your church is doing an exceptional job at caring for your people
If you are looking to reexamine your care ministry this year, or struggling to navigate how to meet the demands of your people and community and would like customized support in strengthening and growing your church’s care ministry I would love to connect with you.
You can start by booking a free discovery call HERE
My passion is to strengthen and equip the local church with the resources, strategies to care for your community without burning out.
Join the Church Mental Health Facebook Group! In the Facebook group, we chat about how to care for others, what are your challenges as well as share tons of resources. This is a great community of pastors, clinicians, and those with lived experience and we want to get to know you.