This year during the season of Lent, our sermon series is going to focus on the church and mental health. As we are preparing for that, I wanted to spend a little time and discuss why we are going to do that.
First, mental health is a very real struggle for many people. According to statistics from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) 1 in 5 U.S adults experience mental illness, 1 in 25 experience serious mental illness, and 17% of youth ages 6-17 experience mental illness. This is a problem that touches people all around us. It is important for us to be aware of this critical issue that affects our communities and our church.
Second, the church has a lot to offer people who struggle with mental health issues. Our calling as the church is to be a place that introduces people to the lifesaving power and relationship of Jesus and to live out God’s love. We have to recognize there have been times where the church has failed people by not being there for them, beating them up with scripture, or minimizing the pain they are going through. We must resolve to do better. The church is to be a place for the people who are hurting, the people who are struggling, the people who need someone to be there for them.
As the church, we’ve not wanted to talk about difficult issues. We’ve told people to pray things away when what they needed was the support of a church family in prayer AND the help of medical professionals who have been trained to deal with these areas. Preaching about this is a way for us to move past these mistakes; to pull back the curtain on these issues so that people feel like our church is a place where they can openly and honestly discuss what they are facing.
Today, we have a chance to begin removing the stigma of mental health, to choose to welcome and support rather than ostracize, to listen instead of prejudge, to help people engage in the wholistic healing that is available when the church and the medical community work hand in hand for the betterment of all people.
I hope you will join us as we talk about the church and mental health.
Edgemont UMC is located at 1326 Eauclaire Avenue, Florence, AL 35630. Our service times are Traditional worship at 9:00, Sunday School at 10:00, and Modern worship at 11:00.