Faith communities play a vital role in responding to the mental health crises that impact our communities. This was true before the COVID pandemic, but it is especially true now.

In this week’s Weekly, we begin with an article by John Swinton urging congregations to find better language for our work with and ministry to people with mental health diagnoses. Then, Katie Boone encourages congregations to “live gently” in order to help overcome the isolation many of our members may feel. We conclude with the stories of two congregations that have found new ways of supporting people with mental illness — first, a Charlotte congregation that has created a staff position around mental wellness, and then, a congregation that narrowed its mission and found its purpose

Welcome to the Weekly. 

Helping Christians with mental health issues starts with better language

Helping Christians with mental health issues starts with better language

Those with severe mental health issues are often misunderstood by people of faith, but congregations have a responsibility to listen to and see each person as a person, writes professor and author John Swinton.

Isolation, mental illness and a thriving community

“I’m praying for you,” is often what people of faith say when we don’t know what else to say. Writer Katie Boone challenges us to do more than promise prayers but to act in ways that overcome the isolation many people with mental illness feel.

Resources for Advent and Christmas

The Well Community: A congregation for those with mental illness

The Well Community, a congregation in Dallas, TX, may be one of the first congregations in the country exclusively serving those with mental health diagnoses. Through its ministries, its members are finding support, encouragement and community.

A church invests in mental health in response to members' suffering

A church invests in mental health in response to parishioners’ suffering

A congregation in Charlotte, North Carolina, created a “wellness director” position after experiencing the loss of six people to suicide in the last five years. Even for churches who do not have the resources to create such positions, there are lessons in the story of Christ Church in how every congregation can care for their members.

From the Alban Library

The Emotional Intelligence of Jesus: Relational Smarts for Religious Leaders

by Roy M. Oswald and Arland Jacobson

The Emotional Intelligence of Jesus: Relational Smarts for Religious Leaders

Faith leaders are surrounded by people, constantly navigating mazes of different personalities, emotional levels, and individual characteristics. Working with committees, individuals, and other leaders is critical to successfully moving an organization forward and representing a congregation with credibility and effectiveness. Not every leader, however, is born with the inherent ability to effectively communicate and relate with others. That ability is called Emotional Intelligence — perceiving, controlling, and evaluating emotions.

Emotional Intelligence is widely studied in the business world to help improve leader effectiveness. The Emotional Intelligence of Jesus introduces readers to the ways emotional intelligence can enhance their work in faith settings. Authors Roy M. Oswald and Arland Jacobson highlight the emotional intelligence of Jesus, illuminating the remarkable ways he related to a diverse array of people, then show how these lessons can enrich the ministry of faith leaders today.

The book walks readers through five key principles of emotional intelligence — self-awareness, empathy, assertiveness, optimism, and stress management — illustrating these principles in the life of Jesus and offering practical applications for leaders today. The authors address emotional intelligence with both individuals and groups of all sizes. The Emotional Intelligence of Jesus is an essential resource for anyone looking to enhance their relationship and leadership effectiveness in a faith setting.

Before you go…

At least weekly, there’s a story on the news about the toll that the pandemic is taking on people’s mental health across the country and around the world.

What patterns are you observing in your congregation? How are you responding? What resources have you found helpful? What resources do you need? We’d love to know. The conversation continues on Alban’s Facebook page and on Twitter.

We’ll see you here next week. 

Nathan Kirkpatrick

Managing Director, Alban at Duke Divinity

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