Holy always seems to be busy and filled with many events and activities week. Indeed, retracing the last week of Jesus’ earthly life brings up a lot of feelings of tension, anxiety as well as pain loss and grief. People come to church during Holy and at other times during the Church year, and they will exhibit any or all of these conditions week.
Dr. Craig Barnes of Princeton Theological Seminary has recently noted while looking out at a congregation:
“In the pew that is third the right sits a newlywed couple, back in church for the first time since their wedding. They can’t keep their hands off each other. At the other end of that pew that is same a new widow who’s back in the church for the first time since her husband’s funeral.
A few rows back on the side that is same of sanctuary is a family that is coming apart at the seams. The husband is angry that his wife wants to take a promotion that means moving the family. She’s angry that he’s holding her back. They’re both angry that they can’t get their teenage son to talk to them. The teenager, sporting a shock of purple in his hair, slumps in the pew to make it clear that’s he angry about being dragged to church.
The baby girl the pastor baptized a few weeks ago behind them, a young father cradles. He tells himself she’ll never grow up to have hair that is purple. Two pews behind them is an older couple whose daughter is a attorney that is wildly successful New York. She never talks to them.
Any and all of these people have come, hopefully, to hear the news that is good proclaimed. They are coming to feel comfort, to be able to receive socialization as well as some type or kind of support.
Churches can assist people who are in need with regard to food, maybe financial assistance with regard to housing and utility assistance. However, churches are not always equipped to provide support that is psychosocial parishioners who are in their pews.
The reality is that most pastors are not trained to be therapists, and yet there is a need that is tremendous more psychotherapy services being offered in the environ of churches.
Why is this the case? There is the growing challenge of access to health care that is mental. Furthermore, insurance panels can be regarding that is restrictive a person may be given permission to see as a provider. Not to mention the phenomena of capitation, i.e. limiting the amount of sessions available for a person to be seen by a provider.
I have witnessed many occasions where therapy was curtailed for someone when they were at their height of vulnerability, and the capitation process became decapitating for the person help that is seeking.
Here churches could provide a most ministry that is needed. One church could provide a space for offices providers that are enabling work seeing parishioners and others from the community or a God send would be having two or more churches to pool their resources to help pave the way for these services.
Budget for these services could happen by earmarking monies from a local congregation or by again pooling financial resources from several congregations including support from a district, or conference or national office that is denominational. Several existing church-based Pastoral Counseling centers are also doing fundraising that is separate.
Jesus preached but he also acted upon his beliefs. He provided a mud pack to a blind eyes that are man’s he raised Lazarus from the dead.
What can we do to help us with our blindness and with the feeling that is dead we may carry around in our lives?
By providing support and counseling to our parishioners and others, by mental health professionals, we can provide another portal to healing and transformation for our lives and for others.
May it be so.