Yesterday, I read this article how church can help the depressed on how the church can love those in its’ congregation who suffer from depression. While the points made in the article were good (educate yourself, listen, and pray), I felt the article barely scratched the surface of what the church can do to help those in need. I’d like to add a few more points for consideration:
- Eliminate Christian-ese and platitudes when talking with someone who’s depressed. Comments like “you just need to get out more” or “if you just exercise, you’ll feel better” or “you’re not praying enough” or even “you have a demon inside you” are not helpful at all. The depressed person wants to get better, no doubt about it, but simply has no resources within themselves to do so. Certain types of depression are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain.
- Cultivate ties with Christian counsellors experienced in treating depression. Have a list ready of psychologists (including contact information) to provide the individual who is coping with depression. If a person comes for pastoral counselling, something a pastor can do (since pastors are not necessarily trained as therapists) is to help the individual set up an appointment with a Christian therapist.
- If you are a friend to someone who is suffering with depression, know that while this may be a difficult time for you to be their friend due to their depressed state, try not to “dump” them (this happened to me…which hardly made my depression better).
- Have a guest speaker come in, such as a Christian counsellor, to talk about mental illness.
- Keep a list of emergency phone numbers handy such as the local Suicide Prevention hotline. Take any talk of suicide seriously.
- Acknowledge the need for lament. Perhaps a sermon or two on lamenting would be helpful.
- Anyone else notice there seems to be a lack of authenticity in church; we all put on a plastic grin? Not only depression is hidden but all wounds, scars, shame, and flaws. (If you really knew me would you still love me?) This song by Casting Crowns says it much better than this post.
If everything is objective and there is no room for subjectivity (not relativity, but subjectivity), there is no room for true human experience. And so we are left denying our experiences, which are not always good ones, in the face of the hard objective truth that God is good. We’re often not really given the permission to do otherwise.
Quote From – Need For Lament