It all comes back to telling people about Jesus.
The Caring Church Response and all of Hope Made Strong’s resources align with the ultimate purpose of making disciples. That is what our mission as Christians is. Each day we are to become more like Christ and live our lives in such a way that it directs others to God’s love and grace.
The Caring Church Response isn’t just a program evaluation or a well-being assessment for your staff and congregation. Nor is it a high-level look at your community and resources, although all that is included. Instead, it’s a pathway. It provides tools and strategies to implement your church’s mission, vision for your community and God-given gifts to affect transformational change and build disciples.
This strategic look on how to integrate all the steps of the Caring Church Response – Recognize, Restore and Resource – comes together in the final step: Reach.
We are living in a world full of hurting people.
It might be overt suffering, causing people to self-medicate and self-soothe with everything from illicit drugs to sacrificial service. Or it may be more subtle when the aching can no longer be ignored in the quiet moments.
All “solutions” to this pain, regardless of the outcome, are a bandaid to the inner issue of a life without Jesus.
I’m not dismissing the biological components of mental health or the impacts of trauma. I deeply feel that mental health is composed of many facets, including biological, genetic, and socioeconomic factors as well as trauma.
But those with mental health struggles are just like any person. Without Jesus, they are broken and searching for hope and belonging.
I love what Dr. Anita Phillips says: prayer is a weapon and therapy is a strategy. This statement perfectly demonstrates how the Gospel and mental health treatment and support can complement each other.
Using the methods and strategies of support can help us bring the message of hope and love of Christ to people to transform their eternal lives.
Mental health strategies are not in competition with faith. As a church utilizing support tools and strategies you will strengthen hope, build trust, and create a culture whereby people can find transformation through Jesus.
This is what Reach, the fourth step in the Caring Church Response, is all about. It’s about taking what we learned in the previous 3 steps and creating an implementation plan so that your church thrives.
The story of the leper in Matthew 8 is such an amazing depiction of how transformation leads to church growth. The leper couldn’t contain his excitement at being healed and had to tell everyone about his transformation. When you put the Caring Church Response into action, people will become just like the healed leper – unable to stop sharing their excitement with others.
When someone finds freedom from addiction, anger, depression and anxiety, their lives are transformed and they can’t help but share what actually worked for them.
Your church is strategically positioned in the neighbourhoods of your community. As people find freedom and support, your church’s light and witness for Jesus will grow. You will become known as a place where broken people can find healing, those who are struggling can find grace, and the unlovable can find hope and belonging.
As your church becomes known as one that supports the community’s well-being, you build trust and influence with your community resources and partnerships. You become a valued part of the support network.
Stigma is broken, bridges are built, and your church will become a safe place for broken people.
This is what it’s all about. Bringing people to Jesus.
For years I have sat and listened to churches make assumptions about what the hurting are saying and feeling. But let me tell you as a person who has worked in homelessness, addiction and crisis work for 15 years. People just want to be accepted and seen as valuable. People want to be listened to and belong. People want to be cared for and seen as capable of doing and being more than what is seen on the outside.
When you Recognize the strengths and needs of your people, Restore the weary and tend to the hurt, and Resource and equip your teams you will be able to Reach your community.
This is what the Caring Church Response is all about.
Let’s build the kingdom of God together.