Ministry Strategy

Some People Don’t Want To Go To Point B

5 Reasons People Resist Change

At Five Stone Media/LifeSupport our mission is about changing lives.  We tell stories of real people to help others find hope and healing that can help transform their lives.  Through interactions with people seeking life transformation we get a front row seat to the struggles people have with change.

One simple definition of leadership is helping people get from Point A to Point B. If you work in or around ministry you know that some people just don’t want their church to change, they are happy to just stay at Point A. One recent study shows that one in three people would avoid change if they could.  The problem is that change is an unavoidable part of life and ministry.  Understanding why people resist change is an essential step in shepherding people through change.  The following are five areas to focus on as you help others prepare for, and enter into change.


We fear change because of the uncertainty it brings. Painting a clear picture of the intended destination will help reduce fears dramatically.  For change to be accepted (if not embraced), there must be an understanding of the benefits of changing. People need to be convinced that Point B is a place they want to go before they can be comfortable leaving Point A.  The description of the change, and the process for reaching that change must be thoroughly understood by everyone involved. The greater the uncertainty about change, the more likely people will fill in the things they don’t understand with gossip or their own personal fears.


We fear change because we fear we might lose what’s associated with the change. Many people view change as a transaction. It’s important to understand and acknowledge the personal costs of change.  If you are asking someone to trade their current situation for a new reality, they will need to be convinced that there will be a real benefit to their life. Communicate the payoff to help people see the upside of the sacrifice that change will bring.


We resist change because we don’t understand the reason behind the change. Helping people understand why they should change will lead to greater engagement with the change process. If you are entering into a period of organizational change rather than personal change it can be harder for those involved to see the reason for change, this is especially true for people who may not be directly involved, or who don’t have inside knowledge (a church congregation for example). For organizations who are entering a time of intentional change, it is essential to create a message that clearly communicates the need for change, and the timeline for the change. People who don’t get enough information can believe that information is being intentionally withheld. The goal should be to make sure everyone affected by the change completely understands this message and timeline.  There is no such thing as overcommunicating the change message.


Life (and change) moves at it’s own pace. One of the biggest struggles a believer can have is waiting for God’s timing.  Many people need guidance on how to release control over when and how the future will unfold.  Additionally, people who are resistant to change need plenty of time to get used to the idea of change.  In addition to over-communicating the WHY of change it’s important to start that communication as early as possible.  Preparing people well ahead of intentional change will help increase acceptance by those who are naturally resistant.  You can help create a culture that embraces change through consistent messaging in sermons, bible study, small groups, and all other areas of ministry.  When church members need to see what it means to live like a Christian (and how to respond to change), they are going to look to the leaders in your church to find a model to copy. The greatest way to inspire others to trust in God’s timing and will is for every staff member and leader to demonstrate a high level of “change acceptance” in their own lives.


In our work we often encounter people who believe they are simply not capable of changing. Sometimes it’s difficult to see this attitude because pride asks us to hide our uncertainty.  Many people have heard a message of “fake it till you make it” at some point in their lives.  We may find ourselves at a point in life where we know we need to change, but we are unwilling to admit that to others so we simply fake our way through life and pretend everything is okay.  This choice will always lead to more pain.  The change that needs to happen doesn’t go away just because we hide it away.  Delayed change almost always leads to greater damage.  Leaders can counteract the “fake it till you make it” attitude through modeling vulnerability and authenticity and communicating their own personal circumstances and past experiences.

Be Encouraged

Change is a constant in our world.  If you struggle with change or if you lead others who struggle with change, remind yourself that change, while painful is the only way to grow.  As believers we have set ourselves on a path to change from our human nature to be as much like Christ as possible.  If you lead believers you are an essential part of God’s plan to change His world and the hearts of his children.  Remember that the ultimate change we seek is eternal change.  Any earthly struggle will pale in comparison to the rewards of Heaven.

Some People Don’t Want To Go To Point B Read More »

Writing God's Story

Collecting Stories For Ministry

Collecting stories for ministry can be challenging.  But, sharing stories of God at work in our world is important and we have a great example to follow. The bible is (in part) a big story of what God has done in the past. Your church is filled with stories of what God is doing today.  We sometimes avoid the parts of God’s story that include suffering, but God’s story is a story of suffering and the rough patches are where our lives often intersect best with the bible.

There are people in your church who have suffered and they have stories to share that will help others who are walking through similar struggles. People with lived experience can be wonderful resources for you, but only if they understand how important their story is and only if you hear about those stories.

In an earlier article I discussed the way stories can be useful to your ministry.  Sometimes it’s hard to find stories in your own church that help people see God at work.  Here are a few idea for encouraging and gathering stories.

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Help People See God in Their Stories

Sometimes people have a hard time seeing God in their story.  One way to find stories is to explore what’s going on in the lives of people and then ask them a simple question, “Do you see God at work in what’s happening in your life?”  I think it’s easier for most of us to think of God working in the lives of others while we don’t consider that we should be getting his attention also.  Depending on a person’s stage of spiritual growth, they may need some help connecting the dots to recognize God’s hand on their back. Here are a few strategies you can pass along that will help people start to see where God is involved in their life, and where their life connects with scripture.

  • Reflect daily on your own life by keeping a daily journal of not only what happens in your life but your prayers too.  By keeping a record of your prayers (and those of others), you’ll be better equipped to see answers to those prayers.

  • After daily bible reading, reflect on when and how the scripture reminds you of people or events in your own life, or where it seems to apply to struggles or decisions you are faced with.

Lead By Example

Help people see how sharing their story can serve others by sharing yours to encourage and support others where appropriate. I’ve noticed that people who work in church ministry tend to shy away from talking about their own struggles and how they are leaning on God.  When ministry leaders are not transparent they can make others believe that it’s not okay to share their struggle either.  Most people who struggle with their mental health already feel a stigma around sharing openly. Few people are better placed to counteract the stigma of mental illness than church leaders.

Be Curious

Don’t be afraid to ask people for stories.  Most people love to talk about themselves.  You know that person on your staff who really loves to connect with people and find out what’s going on with their lives?  Teach yourself to be more like them.  In fact, teach yourself to be that person.  There isn’t much that’s more important to your ministry than knowing the people who are part of your church family.

Ask Group Leaders

You can’t know everyone and you can’t hear all the stories first hand.  If you have a groups ministry in your church, your group leaders are interacting on the front lines of life.  They are hearing stories every week that can illustrate not only the way God really works in today’s world, but the value of groups too.  Ask group leaders to bring those stories to you.  You will need to exercise some care here to make sure you are not encouraging gossip.  A “safe” way to collect stories from group leaders is to formalize a process.  Make sure that your leaders understand why you are looking for stories (to illustrate God at work in the lives of people) and that they in turn communicate that to their groups.  No group leader should share someone else’s story with anyone without first getting the okay from the relevant people in their group.  Group leaders should also be equipped to recognize stories that demonstrate God’s connection to our lives, and that encourage others.

Build a Story Culture

The easiest way to make story a part of your church culture is to start making it a part of your staff culture.  In fact, if your staff isn’t completely on board you are going to struggle getting your attenders to value story.  Take some time during staff meetings (at every level) to share stories that illustrate the way people are seeing God connections in their lives and in the life of the church.  Sharing these stories from the pulpit illustrate to the church that it’s normal to see God in everyday life. 

Make it Easy

Provide simple and numerous opportunities for the stories to come out. There are people in your church who are waiting to share their story. They have things they want to share but they don’t have anyone who knows them or who will listen.  You can provide simple (and accessible) ways for anyone to share a story of how they’ve seen God at work (this might also be a way for people to ask questions about how God might be working).  Here are a few practical tools for story-collecting:

  • Websites/publications – Many churches collect personal testimony stories as part of the baptism process. Provide the option for these stories to be shared with others and then distribute through printed material or create a section of your website where you can highlight these stories.  Encourage staff to refer to these stories during teaching/equipping opportunities.
  • Testimony nights (or just call it Story Time if you don’t want to be churchy). Schedule an evening event once a month or once a year when people can share a specific story about the way God has responded to their life. Ask people to prepare by identifying; what happened, in what way did God play a part in the outcome, how they know God was part of their story, what did they learn about God and/or themselves, how does/did this encourage them.
  • Story related bible study. Similar to testimony events but more interactive. Ask people to share their specific story and then enlist the group to help find biblical parallels and God’s intervention.  Or have participants pick out a story from the bible that helped them understand their own life experience, or themselves and discuss.
  • Create a special email address, place a “Story Dropbox” in your lobby, or other employ some other system where people can send you stories at any time they want.

God’s continuing story is being written in your church.  You can engage your church to help tell that story.

Collecting Stories For Ministry Read More »

A desperate man in the dark

Even Messy Stories Can Be Useful

There are people in your church who have suffered. They have stories to share that will help others who experience similar struggles.  If you work in church ministry, God has positioned you to hear, collect, and use those stories to help people know God.  The following is part of the way I saw God in my story.

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The Messy Part of my Story.

On Sunday morning, January 13, 2013 I arrived home after a 12-hour blackout, drunken drive around the Twin Cities.  I walked through the house, into our bedroom and passed out on the bed.  A few minutes later, I sat back up again and the bedroom was full of cops.  My wife had been in contact with the police through the night when I went missing and not knowing what condition I was in or what I might do, she called them to come over as soon as I got home that morning.

I was a mess. By that point in my years long addiction to alcohol, I had tried everything in my power to change my life.  I had reached a point where I could no-longer see a way forward.  I didn’t know how to do life anymore.  It made no sense to me.  I would drink till I passed out at night, hoping that I would just not wake up the next day.  But morning would come along, I’d wake up, and I’d think “You’ve got to be kidding me, I have to do this again?”

So I sat up in bed that day surrounded by cops, with no clue why they were there, and out of desperation I gave up.  I thought to myself, “okay God, if you are going to keep waking me up, you are going to have to take over. Cause I don’t know how to do life anymore.  I said out loud “I give up.”  And I felt immediately, a sense of calm and certainty that everything was somehow going to work out. I didn’t know how, and I knew it wasn’t going to be because of me, because I had stepped away and placed God in charge. All I know is that I was absolutely content with whatever was going to happen. 

That day when I gave up and stopped trying to control my life, everything changed.  I went to the hospital that day and then to inpatient and outpatient treatment, through hundreds of support group meetings, all the while simply following along where God led me, meeting the people that God put in my path, people who would share their experience, their failures and successes with me, people who had credibility.

Here’s Why Messy Stories are so Important

When I was in my addiction I was utterly hopeless.  I used to stand in front of a mirror, with a bottle of vodka in my hand and say out loud “You are not going to drink.”   And you know what?  I drank every time.  Because I didn’t believe myself.  I was trying to listen to ME for life instructions, and I was simply not credible.

In order for me to believe change was possible, I had to hear it from someone believable. Until someone could convince me that they had been in front of that mirror too, and that they had been able to change I couldn’t see change as a realistic possibility.  Until I believed change was possible, change was not possible.

The stories of all those people that God put in my path, people who were willing to share the ugly truth about their struggles, those stories gave me hope that something different was possible, and that I could actually figure out how to do life again, because they had done it.

Here's Where You Come In

Credible stories of redeemed lives are rarely told, and they need to be told often.  If you work in church ministry, God has put you in the ideal position to hear, and gather stories like mine, and then help people see God in those stories.  In our next article we’ll be sharing some practical ways that story can help your ministry, as well as strategies for collecting stories from the people in your church.

We Have Many More Stories To Share

You can hear more of my (Lee’s) story and many more on the LifeSupport YouTube Channel.  The goal of our channel is to help people grow closer to Christ, and inspire hope and healing by sharing stories of real people who have face the struggles of life.  Subscriptions are important on YouTube.  More subscriptions makes our channel more visible which means we can help equip more churches, and we can reach even more people who need hope and healing.

Click To Visit LifeSupport on YouTube

Even Messy Stories Can Be Useful Read More »

Helping People Serve From Brokenness

Serving From Brokenness

Our recent podcast with Pastor Mark Clark of Village Church in British Columbia inspired this article on engaging people who may feel unqualified for ministry.

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In The Midst Of Struggle We Need To Feel Needed

Serving from brokenness can feel wrong.  When we feel broken in some way, we can believe that we don’t have any value to other people or to God.  Often when people experience some negative life event they may reach out to a few close supporters, but they will tend to isolate from their larger community at a time when a community of support is essential.  From a spiritual standpoint those in the midst of struggle can feel rejected or punished by God.  Isolation allows those thoughts to flourish.  A church family can provide places for broken people to feel that they are a part of God’s plan.

Tapping Unlikely People For Ministry

When looking for people to serve in ministry, it can be easy to look past the person who has experienced some struggle. We can look at the recent widow, the recovering addict, the person in the midst of marital problems, and think we don’t want to add to their burden. Maybe we think they have enough on their plate.  Sometimes that person does need to sit in the bench for a season, but consider God before dismissing that person entirely.

If you only engage the qualified in your ministry, you will be lonely.

God Sees The Qualified Even When We Don’t

Our guest for this week’s LifeSupport Podcast is Mark Clark.  Mark is the lead pastor of Village Church in British Columbia, one of the largest churches in Canada. Mark was an unlikely candidate for the church he planted.  He was raised in a non-believing household, when his parents divorced as a young child, the trauma helped trigger Tourette’s Syndrome, and obsessive compulsive disorder.  I won’t spoil the story (watch the podcast for all the details!) but as Mark was tapped to plant Village Church, his facial ticks, sudden bursts of swearing, and obsessive behaviors were on display for everyone to see, and apparently part of God’s plan to develop Mark as a leader.

It’s so easy to overlook the short kid when picking sides for the basketball team (I was often passed by) but sometimes the short kid, or the kid with Tourette’s is just the person for the job.

But I’m Not Qualified

Sometimes it’s not us who overlooks someone.  If you work in church ministry you’ve probably had someone decline your serving opportunity because “there must be someone who is a better fit.”  Like all growth, spiritual growth requires some challenge.  Don’t be afraid to challenge those who feel unqualified.  Here are a few ways to respond in this circumstance:

  • First, consider that they may be right, even ask them why they believe that they aren’t the right person. They probably know themselves better than you do, so make sure to take their opinion into account.
  • Explain why you think they would be a good fit. This requires that you know them and can honestly describe what it is about them that makes them a good fit.  This is your opportunity to ta about spiritual gifts and offer an assessment if you haven’t.
  • Share a story of when you felt un/under-qualified for something you were asked to do in ministry (hopefully with a happy ending).
  • Enlist the help of another volunteer who felt the same way at one time. In my experience, the opinion of other volunteers often carries more weight than that of a staff member.
  • Use this as a teaching moment and share some examples from scripture of people who were used by God. (I’ve noticed that people like being compared to bible characters).
  • Ask them if they’ve ever learned or been inspired by an unexpected source. If necessary, give them some time to think about this and get back to you. You may fall into a trap with this one so be prepared to offer your own example. 
  • Ask them to at least pray about the idea and get back to you next week (in person, not via email. It’s too easy to say no via email.) Don’t forget to get back to them.  Sometimes the second request to serve will communicate that you were really serious and they’ll give it greater consideration.

Sometimes Their Need To Serve Is Greater Than Your Need For The Right Person

Every day, for nearly two years during my early recovery from alcohol addiction I said this prayer (sometimes, many times a day) “God to show me where can be of service to you today.”  I know that for that two years, and beyond I stayed sober because God answered that prayer by showing me opportunities to serve.  If you look around your church you might see someone like me who is waiting for God to answer this prayer through you.  Someone lonely, or unsure about God, a newcomer, or someone who’s just barely sober.

Be Inspired!

I want to encourage you to watch the LifeSupport Podcast with Mark Clark. There’s a great deal of leadership wisdom in this half hour.  You will be inspired!

Helping People Serve From Brokenness Read More »

Are You Hiding God?

Why It’s Hard For Ministry Leaders To Be Transparent

If you’ve looked at the news lately you’ve seen that the world is talking about mental health.  From sports stars, to musicians, to politicians, People are becoming more and more open about their mental health.  People are also waking up to the dramatic (and often tragic) effects of mental illness on our young people.

So why is there still a stigma around mental illness in the church?  As I was listening to a recent LifeSupport podcast I was prompted to write about the reasons why ministry leaders don’t talk about their own struggles.

Guest: Ryan Alexander

Lead pastor, Hosanna Church, Minnesota

As a child and as a young adult, Ryan struggled with severe anxiety.  Like many young people today, he felt that the world wasn’t safe.  Ryan’s anxiety eventually overwhelmed him and his mental health problems culminated with two suicide attempts at the ages of 18 and 20.

During his appearance on the podcast Ryan shares some of his journey of healing and how God met him in the midst of his struggle.

Later in life Ryan would go on to enter ministry and shortly before taking over as lead pastor of a large church, he used a weekend teaching opportunity to share the story of his struggles with mental health. That opportunity to share gave him a feeling of freedom because he no longer had anything to hide.

Ryan received hundreds of emails thanking him for being so vulnerable.  Hearing this message of transparency made people feel more connected to him, and gave people in the church permission to deal with the problems in their own lives.  Since that message series 5 years ago, Ryan’s church has gone on to become a model of transparency and effective ministry for mental health (and many other areas).

“The story of the bible is a story of trauma in many ways”

Paul and Ryan go on to talk about why pastors don’t often feel permission to talk about their struggles.  Here are a few reasons church leaders don’t talk about their mental health and our responses.

  • Fear
    • God is bigger than your fear.
    • There are people sitting in your pews who are also afraid. They are afraid to talk about their pain because they think that church isn’t a place where people talk about pain.  Those people need you to model vulnerability and Christian community.  Great leaders can look past their own fear to see the needs of others.
  • It’s Not About Me
    • Church leaders believe that the focus should be on God rather than them. We all know that people can put ministry leaders up on pedestals.  It is possible to “put yourself in the story” too many times and make it about you. But, most church leaders live in the shadows rather than the spotlight.  Sharing your personal struggles can be a great opportunity to connect with those you lead, and show how God works in real life situations.
  • I’m Not Qualified
    • Everyone is qualified to talk about themselves and how God is working in their life.
    • Most church leaders have very little training in dealing with mental health issues, and should not try to act as mental health counselors unless they have specific training. However, people who are struggling with their mental health have many needs that can be supported by the church.  Mental illness requires a community of care. The local church should be the first in line to help create that community of care.
    • You can partner with those who are qualified to do the things you can’t. There are Christian counselors and therapists in most areas, or who are available online.  Many of these professionals have systems in place for partnering with local churches and can walk you through the referral process.
  • I am expected to look like a “Complete Christian”
    • There are many churches where there is an expectation that the pastors will somehow not be human. If you are in such a position, you are being asked to do the impossible.  It is unhealthy, and unbiblical for Christians to pretend that normal human problems will not enter into the lives of church leaders.
    • There are probably people sitting in your church who actually believe it’s possible to somehow be a perfect Christian. Because they believe this, they pretend to be something they are not. The people you lead need you to show and tell them that there is no such thing as a complete or perfect Christian, that, the fact that we are not perfect is the whole point of Christ’s sacrifice in the first place. 

When you hide your problems you hide opportunities to show God at work in your life.

We created to help you start discussions about mental health, to help remove stigma so people can find hope and healing through God.  We pray that LifeSupport helps you grow your church.

If there are other reasons you don’t share your struggles we’d love to hear them and will treat your communication as confidential.  Please email any comments to [email protected]

Looking For Ways to Build Mental Health Ministry?

Check out our article – An Overview of Mental Health Ministry

Are You Hiding God? Read More »

Woman in grief

Grappling With God

Table of Contents

It's Okay To Let Survivors Grapple With God

Grappling with God might not sound like a healthy activity.  But, depending on your perspective, grappling with God may be a necessary exercise.  The death of someone close to us creates a terrible new perspective and can bring all kinds of emotions to the survivor: Sadness, anger, regret and confusion.

Those who are members of a church, or have a strong faith, can begin to question God in relation to their loss.

“Where was God?”

“Why would God allow this to happen?”

When coming into contact with a survivor, it is important to remember that they are in a cloud, a fog, and things that make sense to most, may not make sense to them. They have just experienced a crushing loss and, most likely, they are grappling with God.

In today’s blog, we explore this topic through interviews with survivors from LifeSupport’s series called The Worst Loss.

Anger is a common emotion in grief

Why do people become angry after a tragic loss? It could be for a variety of reasons.

If their child was killed in an accident, they may become angry at the other party involved in the accident. Mentally, they may believe that their loved one was unjustly taken from them too soon.

A survivor’s anger can also be directed at God and those who try to tell them about God’s goodness and love.

In an interview with LifeSupport, Barbara Vernes talked about the loss of her son and the emotions that she felt as people in the church tried to support her, but just made her angry.

“Christians would say, ‘Oh, God is with you, He’s right there.’ I was angry. I would say, ‘I don’t feel Him. I don’t see Him. I don’t hear Him. I don’t know where the heck He is, but He’s not right here.’”

While writing her thoughts and feelings about the loss of her son online, some people even questioned her faith when she entitled one of her posts, ‘Where Was God?’

“I wrote, asking where God was and how the church wasn’t helping and this woman online said to me, ‘If your faith was stronger you wouldn’t be feeling this way.’ I thought to myself, ‘Are you kidding me? My beautiful son is dead. He’s never coming back. My faith isn’t a question.’”

There Is No Quick Fix For Grief

Barbara described how she was blinded by grief, anger and confusion.

“You can’t see anything. Nothing makes sense to you at that point.”

Those in the church that want to support a survivor in grief need to realize something important: The survivor may grieve for a very long time and there is no magical phrase, scripture or gesture that suddenly brings them back to who they were before their loss.

Grief if a journey, a unique journey for everyone. The last thing survivors need is for someone to question their faith when they are asking “Where is God?” Questioning a survivor’s faith will only add more anger and confusion to what they are already experiencing.

Grappling with God Creates Opportunities

The word ‘grapple’ means ‘wrestle.’

When you grapple with God, you are wrestling with God, figuratively.

What does that mean? Are we fighting God? Should Christians grapple with God?

“If they are suffering, they are probably grappling with God,” said LifeSupport Pastor Paul Johnson, whose son was murdered. “There is some kind of questioning going on there. There is a real opportunity to reach out in faith and help that person grow. So, from a practical perspective, it is important because there are people that are suffering, and from a spiritual perspective, it helps people develop their relationship with Christ in a new way.”

As with all mental health struggles, grief provides opportunities to connect sufferers with Christ.  The church needs to allow survivors to grapple, or wrestle with God, so their relationship with Christ can survive and thrive.

You can explore these stories of loss and others in the LifeSupport Worst Loss group curriculum. 

You can hear more of Barb’s story on the LifeSupport Podcast 

Grappling With God Read More »

Who Is The Hero?

LifeSupport - with contribution from Ian Burns

Who is the Hero?

One of the things we focus on is how we communicate with people about LifeSupport.  We are guided in this area by marketing guru Donald Miller, CEO of StoryBrand.  One of the foundational elements of marketing that Miller teaches is that, rather than us, the customer should be the hero of the story.  In other words, you are the hero of our story.  When we create and distribute ministry resources, we focus on acting as a guide for you as you do the heroic work of ministry. 

Who is the Hero in Your Church?

For the people you are trying to reach, the story is about them – until it’s about Christ.  Christ is the ultimate hero but if we don’t make the people in the pews the hero first, they won’t understand how Christ can be the guide for their life.

A Little Background on Heroes

Superman didn’t always have a weakness and kryptonite didn’t always exist. Radio listeners and comic book readers were losing interest in a hero who had no limitations. The producers and writers needed to introduce a weakness which Superman’s villains could attack. (Shelton, 2021).  The writers learned a lesson that shows up in all great movies, a hero is defined by the obstacles they have to overcome. 

The Current State of Heroes

We’ve all just experienced a year of obstacles.  Covid has disconnected us in profound ways. In states of uncertainty, exhaustion, loss, and multiple stressors many people no longer feel like a hero, experiencing guilt and/or stigma in their weakness.  Sometimes the hero faces overwhelming obstacles.  If you look through literature and movies you’ll see that most successful heroes required a guide to help them through the obstacles.

The church has the opportunity at this time to act as a guide for the heroes in our pews.  The church is able to hold out the ultimate help for a world of struggling people, in a word: “Jesus”, but not the sanitized version of Christ that shows a detached, and pristine savior.

We as hurting human beings need a God who knows our struggles intimately. Just as a Superman without kryptonite fails to inspire, a detached omnipotent being who does not deeply know suffering, provides little courage in the face of everyday trials.

Charles Spurgeon expressed it well: “But there is one very comforting thought in the fact of Christ’s ‘being made perfect through suffering’ — it is, that He can have complete sympathy with us. He is not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. In this sympathy of Christ, we find a sustaining power.” (Spurgeon – Morning and Evening, 2021)

Take Aways

  • The present suffering in our world creates opportunities to reach people and to help people be like Christ.
  • God sees people as his heroes. Heroes need help to overcome the obstacles of life.
  • God equips those in ministry as hero-guides
  • Difficulties are not due to a lack of righteousness or blessings. Jesus was divine, but was born in a stable’s uncomfortable manger, due to no space being available to Him, mocked by religious leaders, as well as being humiliated and subjected to agony through crucifixion.
  • Stories of overcoming through Christ are excellent tools for evangelism.
  • Recognize the heroes in your church and share their stories.

Interested in Learning More?

Our latest Free Webinar, Attachment and Trauma – How it Impacts Body, Soul and Spirit is coming up on June 16, 2021.  Presenter Melinda Cathey is a therapist who spent nearly 30 years working with orphanages and trains and consults on trauma informed therapy Melinda will share information on how church communities can become safer and more compassionate environments that help people partner more effectively for healing trauma.

Ian Burns

Contributing Author
Ian Burns is a South African school teacher and psychology student. His long term aim is to qualify as a psychologist or counsellor. He believes that a combination of psychology and experiencing Jesus practically can lead hurting people to greater healing.

Who Is The Hero? Read More »

Preparing Your Church

Preparing Your Church To Care For Mental Health

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Preparing your church to care for mental health can be intimidating.  Three mental health professionals from the LifeSupport Family share key strategies that will help you create a culture of care for mental health.

Church or ministry leaders can feel overwhelmed when juggling their pastoral duties along with caring for their congregants. Many churches have care teams or people they refer to depending on a person’s needs.

With complex mental illnesses, people are usually referred to a Christian therapist. In all cases however, the church should strive to be an active part of the community of care for those with mental illness.

At a recent LifeSupport conference, a panel of therapists addressed issues related to mental health and the church with some helpful tips for any ministry that is wanting to improve the way it handles care, aftercare, referrals and more.

Dan Munson, Susan Broadwell and Julie Hull provided a wealth of knowledge on mental health and ways the church can be a role-model for care.

Here are some of the key points.

Be a Church of Listeners

As easy as it sounds, just listening to someone talk about their struggles can have a big impact.

Susan Broadwell, one of the three therapists on the panel at the LifeSupport Conference, said listening is a very important component to being a church prepared to help those with mental illnesses.

“…to be a place of deep listening. To be looking for those individuals who are sitting in the back, or body language can often tell us a lot and what’s going on with someone. It’s not always one thing so it’s really learning how to listen for that and being prayerful about that before coming to church or events,” Broadwell said.

The other two on the LifeSupport therapist panel, Dan Munson and Julie Hull, stressed the importance of being present with those suffering.

“I would love for churches to convey the message that we are a ministry of presence. We will sit with you in that pain. It’s coming alongside you. It seems so passive and it’s so not. It is very, very powerful,” Hull said.

Munson agreed.

“There is healing in listening. Listen, and Jesus will show up,” he said.

Expand the Care Team to the Congregation

At any moment, a person in the church can come into contact with a person suffering. The panel of therapists all agreed that training is important to equip more people so the church, as a whole, can be ready to help when the time comes.

“I think the training is essential,” Broadwell said. “People can see that anyone is capable of walking alongside someone who is grieving or going through any kind of emotional suffering, or any suffering for that matter.”

Churches have all kinds of programs, including care programs, but the therapists wanted to see churches be more open to welcoming those suffering, rather than just placing them in a program.

“I feel like we are a culture that wants to fix it,” Julie Hull said. “We want to have a program, we want to have a design, we want to have the next steps to get to that healing place and it’s not linear. It’s all over the place and it’s crazy, but if the church could provide the message saying, ‘We care, we are going to come alongside you.’”

Utilize Mental Health Professionals

There may be a number of mental health professionals in your church that you are not even aware of. They could be valuable in helping those suffering.

“There should be a plan in place where you are well informed about the therapists in the congregation,” Broadwell said. “What are their areas of expertise? What are they willing to do on a moment’s notice? Are they available for referrals outside of church? I think having conversations about that in advance would be helpful with a more immediate response when the need arises.”

Churches can also utilize those with similar experiences to help others who are suffering in a number of areas…suicide, homicide, an illness or death. By pairing these people together, one that has already walked that road with someone who is just beginning, can bring the proper support to someone hurting.

“Those are things where there is a deeper level of empathy that really cannot be described,” Hull said.

View a video of the LifeSupport Conference therapist panel here –

Our library of short mental health discussion videos help equip lay-persons to talk about mental health topics. 

Preparing Your Church To Care For Mental Health Read More »

Overview of mental health ministry

Overview of Mental Health Ministry

Elements of Mental Health Ministry

We hope you find this overview of mental health ministry useful as a tool to help you plan your ministry strategies.  This is not meant as a comprehensive framework as there are many possible ways to structure and implement mental health ministry.  Our focus at LifeSupport is to develop resources that use personal STORY as a way to equip people to support the mental health needs of others.  As we create or find new resources that will help you, we’ll add them here so make a note to check back.

Table of Contents

Understand and Communicate The Need

You’ve probably heard the statistics by now.  Roughly 20% of the U.S. population is struggling with their mental health right now.  Sadly the number of people who bring their mental health struggles to the church are far fewer.  According to the 2011 Baylor University Religion Survey, only 15% of depressed people reported attending religious services weekly and 39% of depressed did not attend services at all.  Similar numbers are expressed for people who describe  themselves as worriers.  There is a corresponding lack of reliance on scripture for these groups.  An obvious conclusion is that people who are struggling don’t see the church (or scripture) as an effective answer for their problems. It is critically important for the church to address this image so that people see that God has answers for life’s most difficult problems.  Life is hard for all of us sometimes.  But, there are many people in our communities (and sitting in our churches) who feel alone in their pain.  When the church fails to acknowledge mental health struggles, some people will get the message that the problem they have is not something the church wants to hear about.

When a church is educated, and talks about the real problems that people are facing, members are much more willing to share their struggles and to reach out for help.  One of the reasons LifeSupport exists is to help facilitate these difficult conversations.

Related Resources

Address Stigma

Sadly, many churches still have a limited response to mental health needs.  Often the response takes the form of counsel to seek answers in scripture, to pray more, or to simply refer out to a mental health professional.  These kind of responses perpetuate stigma and communicates that the church isn’t really the place to bring that part of yourself, and/or we don’t really think that’s a significant problem.

Transparency in leadership can go a long way to changing attitudes around mental health.  We know from personal experience that sharing stories of personal struggle, and Christ-centered transformation will have significant positive influence on church culture.

Related Resources

Relationship Matters

Nothing about the mission of the church can happen without relationship.  Human beings were designed for relationship.  But it can seem like some people are afraid of the very thing their nature demands.  Churches create experiences, schedules, facilities, and entire ministry strategies all with the aim of cultivating Christian relationships. Mental health ministry presents an ideal opportunity to cultivate a deeper level of relationship for your people.  It may help your church to look at mental health ministry as a way to mimic our triune God.  In the struggle we face to balance our mental health against the pressures of the world, it might help to think of the three relationships common to us all;  our relationship with God, with ourselves, and with others.  Each of those three relationships deserves our attention.  Most people are deficient in one or more of those relationships.  Consider how your church can help people balance and strengthen these three relationships in terms of the following areas of their church life:

  • Serving Opportunities
  • Spiritual Growth/Education
  • Small Group Experiences
  • One-on-one care/Staff Interaction
  • Christian Community

Related Resources

Shed Light on Suffering

When someone walks into a hospital they expect to encounter suffering, healing, and healers.  Hospitals are built to respond to the physical suffering that is part of life. When it comes to mental health suffering, churches are the primary physical location of God’s caregivers. The reality is that walking into a church in the United States evokes many expectations.  It would be helpful to ask if those expectations include the presence of suffering, healing, and healers.  

Asking a church family to take an active role in suffering is a big ask.  Prior to bringing your church members into the strategy, it’s important to engage in some serious self-awareness among your board, leadership, and staff.  Here are a few question to ask yourselves:

  • How often do you hear or see suffering at your church?
  • Does your church have a shared theology of suffering?  How is that theology communicated?
  • If you were an attendee at your church who is overwhelmed by something in life, would you know how to ask for support at your church?
  • How often, and in what ways does your church acknowledge suffering as part of God’s plan?
  • Do you have a strategy for your ministry leadership team to talk about and support each other’s suffering?

Related Resources

Understanding Roles And Partnerships

One of the most common objections we hear to churches becoming involved with mental health ministry is that people who are unqualified may overstep their knowledge, authority, or simply do harm because they lack experience or training.  This discomfort in understanding roles is understandable and can even be seen as a positive tension.  Nobody will be well served by individuals or organizations who over-reach their gifting, experience, or relationships.  However, non-professional care-givers can provide effective and necessary support (sometimes, in ways professionals can’t). The local church is ideally placed to help equip and encourage this type of care-giving through healthy Christian relationship. 

For all parties, care should be taken in establishing guardrails around responsibilities for supporting mental health needs of people in the church.  Each church should have a well communicated plan for areas of responsibility and limitations for support activities.  Consider creating limits of responsibility based on the following categories:

  • Christian mental health professionals outside of the congregation
  • Christian mental health professional who are part of the congregation
  • Staff/Ministry Leaders
  • Lay Leaders
  • Those in Relationship with the Person in Need
  • The Congregation/Christian Community

Related Resources

Ministry Strategy Areas

Even though you may not be ready to integrate mental health into all ministry areas, it’s a good exercise to explore the ways mental health can be influenced through all aspects of your church’s activities.  We’ll be adding future articles to cover mental health strategies for each of the following areas:

  • Teaching
  • Care Ministry
  • One-to-one Care
  • Care Groups
  • Group Ministry
  • Student Ministry
  • Organizational/Leadership Development

Why Mental Health Ministry Belongs in The Church

People need to hear, over and over that God has a solution to the problems of our world.  The local church is in the best position to help people see that God cares about their mental health suffering, and that he has an answer for those problems too.

If people are receiving exclusively secular help for their mental health needs, the church is failing to fully share the way God’s word speaks to all of the problems of the world.  Every time a person doesn’t receive help that is directly tied to scripture, or God’s plan for us, that person may hear that God doesn’t have an answer for their struggle, or that he doesn’t care.

Don't Take Our Word For It

Here’s a quote from Pastor Ryan Alexander, of Hosanna Church in Minnesota, where they openly and deliberately address mental health.

Addressing Mental Health as a church has become one of our signature themes and something we have become known for in the south metro. We regularly hear from mental health professionals that some of their clients first sought help because of how Hosanna has addressed the topic...many men have overcome the stigma and sought counseling because I shared my story. That is all I need to hear in terms of affirmation and motivation for addressing mental health as the Church."

Overview of Mental Health Ministry Read More »

Church Staff Meeting

Maintaining A Healthy Church Staff

* Including the Free Video Resource with Scott Rideout.

Maintaining a healthy church staff is a challenge in the best of times.  The world we live in today makes that job even more difficult.  In a recent LifeSupport Podcast, we were joined by Scott Rideout, President of the Converge movement of churches.  Scott shared these 4 key strategies to help your team stay mentally and emotionally healthy to do the work of ministry.

Avoid Decision Fatigue

  • You don’t need to make every decision. Let your team help you.
  • Innovation has a price tag. Moving forward may feel expensive but if you have the resources it’s always okay to pay a fair price for something of value.

Focus On Advancing The Gospel

  • The gospel work of your church starts with your team. If your team isn’t healthy, your church can’t flourish.  Enlist the Body in new ways to fortify your team.
  • Empower you team to help the people of your church step into opportunities to scatter your ministry into the community.

Stay Connected

  • Make the most of your meeting times.
  • Connect to God, to each other, to training, and to mission.

Have The Right Mindset

3 foundational attitudes (to have and to model) for ministry survival

  • Humility – It’s okay to not have all the answers.
  • Gratefulness – Focus on what you have and model joy.
  • Generosity – As a team, you are living for something bigger than yourselves.

Content for this was originally presented as part of the weekly LifeSupport Podcast, available through the LifeSupport YouTube Channel, or on the Faith Radio Network.

A Free Video Resource

We Can Help You Equip Your Healthy Church Staff

The LifeSupport Library of resources has been built in consultation with church leaders like you, along with a team of Christian mental health professionals to bring you practicaltools to help you equip others for ministry.  Contact us if you are looking for resources you can’t find on our site.

Looking For Ways To Engage Your Church For Care?

Our Worst Loss Conference is designed specifically for church staff and ministry leaders to help you create a culture of support that engages your church to come alongside those who are going through pain and suffering.

Maintaining A Healthy Church Staff Read More »

Compelling Evidence For Mental Health Ministry


A Call To Action

Recent research into mental health and the church provides compelling evidence and direction for ministry strategies.  The findings regarding depression, anxiety and loneliness can’t be ignored by ministry leaders. If a church or ministry really wants to get at the heart of current issues among congregants and believers, they need to face mental health head-on. In today’s blog, we look at several reasons why ministry leaders might want to re-examine their approach and response to mental health.

Anxiety and Depression on the Rise

“Only one-in-three young adults in the United States say they are loved by those close to them,”

Several in-depth studies have been conducted to track the rise of mental health in the church. One of those is Barna Group (, a research and resource company that has tracked the role of faith in America.

Mental health issues rose to the forefront, both in secular and spiritual realms, with Covid-19, but even before the pandemic hit, levels of depression and anxiety were already on the rise.

“Our studies over the years have really shown rise in anxiety, loneliness, depression, a sense of disconnect from others. It really defines Generation Z, as well as Millennials,” said David Kinnaman, President of Barna Group, regarding the group’s largest-ever study. “It’s essential that the church shows up to offer meaningful solutions in an era of anxiety.”

In the Barna study, data showed that almost half of U.S. 18-35-year-olds (49%), expressed anxiety over important decisions and were afraid to fail. Over three in 10 said they often felt said or depressed (39%) or lonely and isolated from others (34%).

“Only one-in-three young adults in the United States say they are loved by those close to them,” Kinnaman said. “So, this is a huge issue, and Covid has only increased all of that and intensified struggles for those with mental health.”

Young People Are At High Risk

Barna’s research uncovered harsh realities regarding young people and how they handled the pandemic and isolation.

“We discovered that young people were feeling very, very isolated and lonely,” said Mark Matlock, Director of Insights for the Barna Group. “What was interesting was when we out to talk to different pastors, we found out that a lot of them were cutting back their contacts and connections with teens and those 20-somethings, thinking that they would be okay and be the most resilient. But think about it, if you’re a teen or a young person, you’ve gone through a major disruption with things like your school, college and places of work.”

This passive approach to younger people in the church has only exasperated mental health issues.

Unprecedented Times Call for Unprecedented Response

"Christians are looking to the church for support for their mental health, and for support in the relationships affected by it."

A combination of a pandemic, race and justice, economic hardship and other factors have accelerated mental health struggles for many. Isolation, depression, worry, anxiety…it takes a toll.

“Christians are looking to the church for support for their mental health, and for support in the relationships affected by it,” Kinnaman said. “Loneliness defines our times – we are more connected but more disconnected than ever.”

This new-found insight regarding mental health provides motivation to create new strategies for care in the church. The library of LifeSupport Resources exists to help ministry and church leaders equip others to support people with mental health needs.

To read more about the Barna Group’s research into mental health and the church, visit:

Compelling Evidence For Mental Health Ministry Read More »

Empty church showing a lack of engagement

Mental Health Engagement in the Church by LifeSupport

Ready to engage mental health in your church in a new way? LifeSupport is about equipping pastors for mental health ministry.  This blog post from Ed Stetzer is essential reading for pastors.  In the article, Ed shares 3 Ways To Engage Better.

If pastors and church leaders are often the first responders to a mental health crisis (and they are), then it is essential that they be equipped and prepared.

3 Ways To Engage Mental Health in Your Church

  1. Talk About It More
  2. Partner With Professionals
  3. Continue To Learn

We can and must intentionally seek out ways we can be more effective hands and feet to those struggling with mental illness in our communities.

An Urgent Need To Respond

More than 20% of adults in the U.S. suffer from some form of mental illness. (National Institute of Mental Health).  In a Lifeway Research Study on mental health and the church, 49 percent of pastors say they rarely or never speak to their congregation about mental illness.   The same study illuminates the fact that churches are unprepared to respond. Just 27 percent of churches reported have a plan to assist families affected by mental illness.

The church is ideally positioned to act as first responders for members of the church and community who are struggling with mental illness.  There are simple strategies that can be implemented by any church to help equip people to come alongside others. 

One way to help people engage with mental health is through LifeSupport Mental Health Discussion Videos.  Our library of videos includes short videos and companion application guides to help facilitate simple conversations and support.  We’d love to help you multiply care for mental health in your church.  Get in touch if you have needs we can fill.

Quotes and linked content shared by permission of the author Ed Stetzer, executive director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center, serves as a dean at Wheaton College, and publishes church leadership resources through Mission Group.

Mental Health Engagement in the Church by LifeSupport Read More »

Group of men talking mental health strategy

Beyond Support Groups by LifeSupport Resources


5 strategies for mental health ministry

Don’t get us wrong, support groups are an excellent and proven care strategy.  But, there are many other essential elements to an effective mental health ministry. These 5 strategies for mental health ministry can help you move beyond groups.

Be Ready For The Mess

Mental illness WILL come through the doors of your church.  The questions you should be discussing with your team are:

  • Are we prepared to recognize when someone needs our help?
  • Does everyone here know that it’s okay to not be okay at church?

Create Opportunities To Share

We are designed to do life in relationship with others.  Part of doing life is sharing the struggle, pain, and healing of mental illness as a normal part of life. Do you have strategies to help people connect authentically beyond Sunday morning, and small groups? Some individual or team on your staff should own responsibility for making sure these strategies are happening.

Model Transparency

If they never see the Pastor hurting and vulnerable, we can hardly blame them for hiding their own pain. When that happens, someone has failed.  Hope can start for someone when they hear a leader open up about a personal struggle, and share the path they took through thier own mess.  We have witnessed this kind of inspired hope in hundreds of healing people.  Do you have a process/stragtegy for your ministry leaders to share their stories with each other and the church?

Communicate a Theology of Suffering

People see suffering in the world and in their own lives and they want explanations.  You’d better be prepared with some answers(*see # 5).  It’s easy to forget that the folks in the pews might not have a deep understanding of God’s plan, or the depth of pain that was present in the life of Christ.  Whenever possible, equip them with honest (and encouraging) truth about the suffering that is part of God’s story, and of our redemption.

Learn To Partner Well

You can’t have all the answers.  In most areas (and certainly online) there are good and caring Christian mental health professionals. Build relationships with a few.  Invite them to your church to get to know the family a bit.  Bring them in for a staff lunch or ask them for a presentation on a topic you might need help with.  Whether they admit or not, your church family experiences the same wide variety of mental health issues as the rest of the world and some of them are going to have pretty specific support needs. You’re probably going to need more than one or two professionals on your contact list.  Once you’ve identified plenty of professional care-givers, create a plan for referral; what triggers a referral, who’s responsible for the referral and for follow-up, how do you coordinate care with the mental health professional.

Want To Go Beyond 5 Strategies For Mental Health Ministry?

Christian therapist Jenita Pace of Three Rivers Counseling provides some specific steps to remodel your church to embrace care for mental health.  Read her thoughts here.

If you need more information about strategies for mental health ministry,  please contact us through this site and we’ll provide whatever help we can.

Beyond Support Groups by LifeSupport Resources Read More »