On the show today is Dave Eckert, we met a few years back when planning the first Church Mental Health Summit and I absolutely loved what he was doing in the faith and mental health space. 

Dave is both a Pastor and Social worker who is passionate about connecting with people where they are at while offering support that is both Biblically based and holistically focused.   

As a social worker myself, my biased assessment of this is that it is a pretty incredible combination. 

A great highlight about Dave is he is best known for cracking the code when it comes to the intersection of community mental health and faith or the church.

A big concern for churches is how do they find organizations in the community that they can trust and how can they build partnerships or perhaps start a community relationship. 

Dave answers these questions in the episode of the podcast and if you are looking for a download to get started I include these concepts in my free guide 3 Steps to building a Care Ministry. 

Partnerships between churches are incredibly valuable because of three reasons; 


  • Capacity

This is because one of the top concerns I hear from churches is there are often more needs than their church has the capacity to meet. 

With partnerships from community organizations, churches are able to grow their capacity to care by having partners to refer to and support the needs while staying connected and engaged. 

This takes the pressure off church leaders to be all things to all people as they have trusted connections throughout their communities offering support and enabling them to honor their roles as leaders. 


  • Holistic Care

I have worked for over 15 years in the community mental health setting and there is a tremendous value in holistic health care and this includes spirituality.  While we were trained to ask about someone’s spiritual beliefs, I didn’t feel trained as a social worker to guide people in these discussions. I remember thinking I wish we had access to a chaplain to be able to help people navigate these faith questions. 

If you as a church had a trusted relationship with a community organization it would be incredibly valuable for them to have a  go-to person when someone wanted to talk about their faith. 

And as a church or leader how beautiful would it be to be able to go into the community and be introduced to people who are interested in faith and looking for someone to walk alongside them as they looked to their faith in a time of struggle. 


  • Influence

Community organizations are often working in collaboration with each other and with the city/region to develop programs, support, and initiatives for the community.

By building trusted relationships you can be among those collaborators.  Your church could be engaged in discussions about how to increase access to care, support, and neighborhood initiatives.  

When people are struggling people are more likely to come to the church seeking support than they are a doctor or specialist.  This is very common and known so your church’s voice in these community collaborations is very valuable.

However, this type of influence starts with building trusted relationships.  




For many years Dave Eckert was a director of a Mobile Psychiatric Rehabilitation program. This is a program that would go into neighborhoods and bring care to the people.  Dave is also a pastor at a local church in the Philadelphia area and he began to see the value of bringing these two worlds together he spearheaded a program called Intersect where he fostering of collaboration between faith communities and mental health providers.

In this episode, he shares lessons learned and how your church can begin building trusted relationships with community organizations. 

Dave was born and raised in the Philadelphia area and shares how his parents set the example of how someone doesn’t just have beliefs but walks out their faith in a day to day life. 


  • Earlier in life, Dave desired to interact one on one with people however the aspect of leadership in the church found its path towards him. 
  • His plan was to become a physical therapist however he realized it was not for him and then dived into social work which led him to community-based mental health. 
  • While working as a social worker, he later discovered his calling to lead as a pastor and now juggles both



The greatest connection is that they both care for the community and because of this partnering to serve each other’s deficit points is very easy. 



  • There  is a need for conversation between churches and communities to work together to serve people
  • Churches should be open to highlighting the aspect of mental health and the community should make room for religious/spiritual affairs   
  • It is important to identify people who want to offer both social and pastoral work




  • Being around community enables the church to reach out to non-believers
  • The church gets an understanding of the needs of the community
  • Creates an influence on leadership roles in the community and as a leader you can act as a representative
  • Grows the church’s capacity to care



  • Consultation calls with pastors and social workers to talk about health and faith
  • Training on how to support people with mental health issues
  • Fostering collaborations between community and church




Website: www.accessservices.org

Email: deckert@accessservices.org




3 Steps To Building A Care Ministry




Websites: HopeMadeStrong.org

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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.